As a woman, being aware of potential health conditions that disproportionately affect females is important for wellbeing and getting timely treatment when needed. By understanding risk factors, symptoms, and preventative steps for common conditions, women can better monitor their health and know when to seek medical care. This article covers five female health issues that all women should have on their radar, along with key information around causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and management.
- Candida Infection
Candida is a type of yeast that naturally occurs in the body, usually kept under control by the immune system and other microorganisms. However, many women experience candida overgrowth at some point, causing uncomfortable candida symptoms. When there is an overabundance, candida can lead to infections like thrush. Contributing factors include antibiotics, hormonal contraceptives, pregnancy, diabetes, a compromised immune system, and an unhealthy diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Common candida symptoms in women include itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina, vulva, and labia; cottage cheese-like discharge; painful sexual intercourse; painful urination; and red, inflamed skin around the area.
If you suspect candida overgrowth, see your GP or women’s health specialist for a candida test. They can diagnose candida overgrowth through a combination of looking at signs and symptoms, taking a vaginal swab to identify an excess of yeast under the microscope, or conducting candida tests that check for elevated candida antibodies in the blood or stool. Treatment for candida typically includes antifungal medications, probiotic supplementation to restore vaginal bacteria balance, lifestyle changes like avoiding high-sugar foods, and management of any underlying conditions contributing to candida overgrowth.
When blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen, anaemia develops. Heavy periods increase the risk along with poor nutrient intake. Symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, paleness and weakness. Doctors diagnose anaemia via blood tests. Increasing your iron intake through diet or supplements can treat iron deficiency anaemia. Addressing any underlying medical issues causing anaemia also provides relief.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Short urethras make women prone to transferring bacteria into the urinary tract, leading to bladder infection. Symptoms include stinging urination, frequent/urgent urination, abdominal pain, and cloudy/urine. Without treatment, fever, chills, nausea, and back pain can occur. Antibiotics treat UTIs, and some women need regular preventative antibiotics. Lifestyle measures like urinating frequently, wiping front to back and avoiding irritants/diaphragms help prevent infection.
When uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, typically around pelvic organs, painful internal bleeding and inflammation results. Symptoms include pelvic pain, painful sex/bowel movements/urination during periods, fatigue, depression, and infertility. Medications like NSAIDs, contraceptives or GnRH analogues relieve symptoms. Laparoscopic surgery removes tissue if other treatments fail. Managing with your doctor helps navigate options.
Benign muscular tumours that grow on the uterus wall occur in 3 in 10 UK women. Sometimes, fibroids cause no symptoms. But heavy, painful periods, lower back pain, frequent urination, pain during sex and abdominal swelling can happen. Medications help manage pain/bleeding. Procedures may destroy small fibroids. Hysterectomy removes fibroids fully. Making positive lifestyle choices can also ease discomfort.
This brief summary of five common female health conditions provides helpful insight around causes, symptoms, and treatment options to monitor health and know when to seek medical support if concerns arise.