Health Concerns Every Woman Should Be Aware Of
Did you know that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men? In fact, a study by the University of Leeds found that women have a 50 percent higher chance than men of receiving the wrong initial diagnosis following a heart attack. In recognition of women’s health week, we are spotlighting top conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed in women.
Keep reading for a list of the most common misdiagnoses in women, as well as tips on how to preventively care for your health.
Why are Women More Commonly Misdiagnosed?
There are several possible explanations for this disparity. One theory is that women are more likely to have “atypical” symptoms that can be harder to diagnose. For example, a woman with a heart attack may experience fatigue and nausea rather than the more typical chest pain. As a result, her symptoms may be attributed to other causes, such as stress or the flu.
Another theory is that gender bias plays a role in misdiagnosis. Studies have shown that doctors are more likely to dismiss women’s symptoms as “psychosomatic” or “unexplained.” This is partially due to cultural biases— women are often seen as being overly emotional, and their symptoms are not taken as seriously as those of men.
Lastly, there is a possibility that many doctors aren’t as educated on conditions that affect only women. For example, endometriosis often masquerades as pelvic inflammatory disease, while fibromyalgia is often mistaken for arthritis.
Top Misdiagnoses in Women
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- What is it? PCOS is a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.
- What to look out for: Symptoms include menstrual irregularity, excess hair growth, acne, obesity, infertility, and other symptoms. PCOS is often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety.
- What is it? Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterine cavity.
- What to look out for: Pain in the lower abdomen, lower back, pelvis, rectum, or vagina, and menstrual irregularities. Endometriosis is often misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
- What is it? Ovarian Cancer is a growth of abnormal cells that forms in the ovaries.
- What to look out for: Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include bloating, fatigue, and abdominal pain. Ovarian cancer is often misdiagnosed as a UTI or stomach flu.
- What is it? A blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle.
- What to look out for: Symptoms include tightness or pain in the chest, neck, back, or arms, as well as fatigue, lightheadedness, abnormal heartbeat, and anxiety. Women often experience fatigue and nausea rather than the more typical chest pain and can be misdiagnosed as stress or the flu.
As you can see, there are a variety of conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed in women. If you have any of the above conditions or think that you might, it is important to get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in women’s health. In addition to getting a second opinion, there are also things that you can do to stay healthy and well!
Tips for Staying Healthy and Well
If you’re a woman, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk of being misdiagnosed.
- Get regular checkups and screenings. This is the number one, best way to be proactive when it comes to your health.
- Be an active participant in your own healthcare by paying attention to your body and knowing what’s normal for you. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional.
- The holy trio: Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep! Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week and at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if you’re not sure about a diagnosis.
If you have questions about any of these conditions or are interested in a membership at The Health Center, visit our website or call us at 646.819.5100. Our team of expert providers are equipped to deliver a tailored health care program that fits your lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for preventive care, stress reduction, fertility services, or menopause management, we have you covered. With our comprehensive approach to women’s health, you can rest assured that you’re receiving the best possible care.