Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues. The diseases are very devastating for those who live with them. Although both men and women have chances of developing diseases, women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases than men. What’re the reasons? Keep reading the article to understand.
Why Are Women More Likely to Have Autoimmune Diseases?
There’re many types of autoimmune diseases, and everyone has an equal chance of developing diseases. But these are more prone to women. Around 75% of all people with autoimmune illness are female. When it comes to certain diseases like lupus, for example, the number of women developing lupus rises to until 90%. Why is that? The following reasons may explain, but these may not be entirely clear for all autoimmune diseases.
- Immune system differences in gender. Some researchers think that women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases. It’s because their immune system are more complicated than men’s. They have a stronger inflammatory response than men when their immune system are triggered. As you know, inflammation plays a main role on many autoimmune diseases. While this results in strong immune system among women, it also increases women’s risks of the diseases.
- Sex hormones. Another reason for autoimmune diseases in women is sex hormones. Many autoimmune diseases can improve or flare depending on female hormonal changes. For example, many women experience changes on the body while they get pregnant, are on period, or go through menopause. Thus, it also indicates that sex hormones play a role in autoimmune disorders.
- Preganacy. Several evidences show that fetal cells can stay in women’s body for years after a pregnancy. These fetal cells could be associated with the development or worsening of some autoimmune diseases.
- Genetic susceptibility. Some scientists suppose that women who have two X chromosomes in difference of men’s X and Y chromosomes tend to have autoimmune diseases. There’re some proofs that defects in the X chromosome could be linked to the susceptibility to the certain autoimmune disorders.
What’re Common Autoimmune Diseases in Women?
There’re more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases. But women are more likely to have these autoimmune diseases.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
Lupus attacks various parts of the body that causes inflammation, fatigue, and even kidney failure. The disease has an impact on nine times as many women as men. There’s no cure for lupus disease. But certain lupus medications and a healthy lifestyle are crucial for coping with lupus. These also help prevent further lupus flare-ups. In addition, positive thoughts and stress reduction are effective in controlling lupus.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. For this disease, female hormones play a role in the onset as around 75% of people who have RA are women. The disease can affect different parts of the body. But the most commonly affected areas are the joints, skin, eyes, and mouth. Like lupus, the treatment for RA aims to reduce and prevent inflammation, like NSAIDs. A healthy lifestyle also plays an important role in controlling lupus.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis is twice more prone in women than it is in men. The disease causes problems in the muscles, eyes, bowel, and bladder. You may feel numbness, tingling, and pain that across entire the body. Plus, MS symptoms specific to women who have menstrual problems, menopause, and pregnancy. The best ways to manage the symptoms and feel better are a well-balanced diet, exercising, avoiding smoking and drinking. Long-term drug treatments can be used for MS but it should be guided by your doctor.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects seven times as many females as male. Sex hormones play a role in the onset of this autoimmune disease. Also, getting pregnant is another cause because some women have the disease during the first year after having a baby. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be mild at first and take time to develop. So you should be aware of an enlarged thyroid that goes along with fatigue, weight gain, and joint pain. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, there’s no cure for this disease. But replacing hormones with medication can help to control hormone levels and restore your metabolism. Work with your doctor to seek proper treatment for your condition.
This is another autoimmune disease which occurs about seven times more often in women than men. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, bulging eyes, and a fast metabolism. The disease can be treated with medicines or surgeries. But it causes osteoporosis and heart problems if left untreated. Also, Grave’s disease in women cause problems with the menstrual period, getting pregnant, during and after pregnancy.
How to Reduce Risks of Autoimmune Diseases in Women
As women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases than men, it’s great to learn how to reduce the risk of the diseases. The following tips can be useful
- Keep stress at bay
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Try to eat more lean proteins, fresh fruit, and dark leafy green vegetables
- Take rest as needed
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise every day
- Check annual health
- Avoid harmful habits, like smoking or drinking
Autoimmune diseases result from your mistaken immune system when it overworks. While both women and men can develop the diseases, women are more likely to have autoimmune diseases than men. To prevent the diseases, women should check their health annually and practice a healthy lifestyle.