Gender makes a difference in the kind of health problems that people experience.
Female body typically has less fluid and more fat than the male body, important consequences for
Gender makes a difference in the way a disease is diagnosed, viewed, and treated.
Health care providers often consider the disease symptoms that occur in males to be normative, or
standard. Same disease may cause a different set of symptoms in females.
Illness is an important part of many women’s experience.
Chronic health problem: long lasting illness that cannot be completely cured. In US, this could account
for 70% death.
Bias against women:
Women have often been neglected in medicine and in medical research.
-Studies often not based on/with women subjects.
-Male as the normative.
Gender stereotypes are common in medicine
-Some physician considers women complaints to be not as serious as men’s.
-Believe women are more emotional and cannot understand information of their medical
Medical care provided to women is often inadequate or irresponsible.
-Received too much or too little health care.
Physician-patient communication patterns often make women feel relatively powerless.
-Women are more likely than men to report that their physicians didn’t listen to them and
talked down to them.
Gender comparisons in Life expectancy:
Women tend to live 5 years longer than men, virtually every country in the world, despite the
substantial health problems that women experience in developing countries.
Female second X chromosome may protect them from some health problems.
Gender differences in high-risk activities.
More men than women are exposed to dangerous conditions at work.
In both U.S, and Canada, women visit their health-care providers more often than men. More Sensitive to internal signs that might foreshadow health problems.
Gender comparisons in overall health:
Morbidity: Generalized poor health or illness.
Women have disadvantage in terms of morbidity than men. Such as, problems with obesity, anemia,
respiratory illness, chronic illnesses, headaches, and general fatigue.
Women live longer than men; nonfatal illnesses are associated with old age.
Morbidity is usually by self-report; women may be more likely than a man to report a illness.
How social class influences U.S women’s health
Social class can be measured in terms of a person’s occupation, income, or education.
Social class is correlated with life expectancy and morbidity.
Women and men differ in life insurance in U.S, where men usually received the best health care
benefits, and women received the secondary class, especially true for women of colour.
Low-income families often live in noisy, crowded environments; these factors are associated with poor
Health issues for women in Developing countries:
-Faces two issues, access to health care and female genital mutilation.
When resources are scarce, female tends to be ignored when a medical issue arise.
Seeking medical help for males are more likely than females.
Female in developing countries typically have inadequate health care and too little to eat.
Female Genital Mutilation (Female genital cutting): Involves cutting or removing a section of the
female genitals, usually part or all of the clitoris.
Typically a cultural practice, yet creates health problems for girls and women.
Extremely painful procedure, can cause severe blood loss, and infection leading to death.
Usually perform on girl between 4 to puberty, held down by female relatives, then an older women
perform with an unsterilized sharp objects such as a piece of glass.
Cultural believe that this makes the genital cleaner, reduce sexual activity outside marriage (which is
true, in a sense that sexual pleasure is decreased). Cardiovascular disease….Etc. :
Most deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
Each years, 500,000 death in U.S, and responsible for 23% of all female death.
Myth: This is a men’s disease.
Men more likely to experience heart disease earlier, but women have the same risk by age 75.
Black women more likely to die of heart disease.
Men’s self-report symptoms tend to be chest pain, while women’s symptoms are chest pain and
breathlessness, which may confuse the physicians if they are searching for classic “male” symptom only.
Researcher more likely to studies cardiovascular in men.
Men and women behave differently after heart attack, men reduce chores, while women takes up on it
Precautions for prevention: Diet low in salt, cholesterol, and saturated fats. Exercise while maintain
Women associated with breast cancer when 10% of men can get it too.
Overemphasize on breast cancer with women, when other illness are more dangerous for women.
May be due to the fact that breast Is culturally consider essential part of being a women.
Removal of breast will invite views of less of a women.
Black women are less likely than white women to develop breast cancer, more likely to die from it
Women who are menstruating should examine their breast about a week after their menstrual period is
over because their breast are likely to have normal lumps during menstruation.
Mammogram: X-ray of the breast, taken when breast tissue is flattened between two plastic plates.
When breast in early stage, lumpectomy is a common treatment. Where it removes the cancerous
Earlier detection and more sophisticated procedures, women are much less likely to die from breast
cancer now than in earlier decades.
Diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer will cause some fear, anxirty, grief, depression, and anger.
Treatment cycle is physically painful, socially lonely experience, often feel exhausted for several months
during and after treatment. Most women who have had surgery tend to cope well, especially if they have social support.
Reproductive system cancer and Hysterectomies
Cervical cancer: Affects the lower portion of the uterus.
In north America, women seldom die from cervical cancer, due to highly accurate screening test called
the Pap smear.
Pap smear test: The gynecologist takes a sample of cells from the cervix to see whether they are normal,
precancerous, or cancerous. Early detection is highly curable. Not usually cover by insurance in the U.S.
Women of colour are more likely to die from cervical cancer due to lack of access or less likely to seek a
Hysterectomy: surgical removal of a women’s uterus, some are necessary, but many surgeons could
have taken a less drastic measure.
Higher rate of hysterectomies in North America than any where else.
Individual differences in the psychological or physical symptoms after hysterectomies.
In the U.S, cancer of the ovaries has the highest rate of death of all gynecological cancer, there is
currently no reliable, valid screening test for this disorder. The symptoms include abdominal cramping
and vomiting, so people are likely to think of it as a less serious health problem, reducing early detection
Osteoporosis: The bones become less dense and more fragile.
Women 4 times more likely than men to develop this disorder.
Common among older women
Experience a bone fracture, which can cause long-term disability for women.
Reduce risk by doing regular weight bearing exercises such as walking or jogging.
Young women need to take adequate calcium and vitamin D fro strong bones, and continue
throughout their lives.
Recommends a bone-density test when women reach the age of 65.
Background information on Disability studies
In Canada, women are more likely than men to have a disability.
Disability: physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s ability to perform a major life activity in
the manner considered normative.
In general, the term Person with a disability (emphasizes someone’s individuality first and the disability
second) is preferable to disabled person. Ableism: Discrimination on the basis of disability. Such as treating people with disabilities as if they were
children, it devalue the person.
Disability studies: An interdisciplinary field that examines disabilities from the perspective of social
sciences, natural science, the arts, the humanities, education, and media studies.
Elderly women are especially likely to have a disability.
Variation within the disability category is tremendous, the term women with disabilities is simply a
social construct that links together unrelated condition.
Life experiences may be very different for a woman who is blind, a women who is missing an
arm, and a woman who is recovering from a stroke.
Many people judge individuals with a disability primarily in terms of the disability, popular
culture assumes that being disabled is what these individuals do and are “she’s the one in the
People who are not disabled could adopt the label “temporarily abled”
Women of color who have disabilities experience a triple threat, sexism, racism, and ableism.
Education and work pattern of women with disabilities
Women with disabilities face barriers in pursuing an education beyond high school, cannot find
accessible buildings, wheelchair-friendly sidewalks or elevators, sign-language interpreters, and
other support services.
In North America, less likely to be employed than people without disabilities.
Often encounter economic problems, and unlikely to receive adequate retirement benefits.
Personal relationships of women with disabilities
Many North Americans may consider some women with disabilities to be unattractive.
May be excluding from the social world, as well as from some aspects of the employment world.
Heterosexual women with disabilities are less likely to date and to marry, harder still for lesbian
Assumption by society that people with physical disabilities are not interested in sex or not
capable of engaging in sexual activity.
At risk for inadequate counseling about sexuality and sexual abuse.
Sexual satisfaction and desire for a women are likely to be ignored
Non-romantic friendships are sometimes difficult, where classmates may seem to be afraid to
them or avoid certain topics of discussion such as sexuality, dating, and childbearing.
In general people reported a very high degree of satisfaction with friends and family. Background information on AIDS
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): Viral disease spread by infected semen, vaginal
secretions, or blood, this disease destroys the body’s normal immune system.
Aids is caused by the human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): potential to destroy part of the immune
HIV invades white blood cells and reproduces itself, then destroys those lymphocytes.
Most common transmission for HIV is vaginal or anal sex with an infected person.
Spread when using contaminated syringes for drug users.
HIV-positive pregnant woman can transmit to the infant, during vaginal birth.
Women much more vulnerable to STD than men are.
-Concentration of HIV is much greater in semen than in vaginal fluid.
AIDS is the second leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults, after traffic and other
Black women account for more than half of the females who are HIV positive, gets lower among Latina,
then equally low among Asian, Native, and European American women.
Medical aspects of HIV and AIDS
Many HIV-positive shows no symptoms at first.
Experience symptoms of infection between 6 and 9 months later, some can be symptom free for
Symptoms may include fatigue, rashes, unexplained fevers, unintentional weight loss, and
Women are likely to develop vaginal infections and cervical cancer.
HIV-positive are highly contagious during the initial stages of infection, symptoms need not
show, thus unintentional spreading of the disease.
May take 10 years of long for HIV infection to develop into AIDS (Immune system T-cell count
drops below a specific level)
Medication can help prolong life for HIV-positive people, hard for those of low incomes,
therefore women are less likely to do so.
Psychological Aspects of HIV and AIDS
HIV can damage the CNS, causing memory loss and cognitive problems.
Likely to experience depression, anxiety, anger, fear, and stress.
High stress level are especially likely to exacerbate HIV symptoms.
Some living with AIDS often report insensitive reaction from other people, while others are
surprised by the messages of support they thought were gone.
Preventing AIDS Currently, no cure for AIDS.
AIDS is difficult on both the individual and the global level
Some thinks they can avoid AIDS based on LOOKING at who may be HIV positive, when it is
impossible to tell by just looking.
Many people might think “it can’t happen to me!” especially underestimate their own personal
risk after the consumption of alcohol.
HIV positive may not know it themselves.
Trained professionals are more effective than peer educators in convincing people to engage in
Many adolescent females are dating older males, who may be HIV positive, and the young men
may pressure or sexually assault their partners.
In our culture, people are reluctant to discuss condom use with their potential sexual partners.
Men control the use of a condom, due to the unequal power in most sexual relationships.
Regular condom use does NOT guarantee protection against AIDS because condoms can break
Some developing countries are using creative programs to prevent the spread of AIDS.
Women are more likely than men to be infected by having sex with partner who has one of
these diseases, such as an Asian American women (4 times more likely than Asian Men)
STD also produce fewer detectable symptoms in women than in men.
Disease Description (for women) Consequences (for women)
HPV (human Caused by various strains of human papilloma virus; Can lead to cervical cancer,
papillomavirus, small, often painless swelling in the genital area; which may lead to death. Can
Genital warts): very common in young women; can be treated and be passed on to new-born
sometimes curable during delivery
Chlamydia: Common in young women; often no symptoms, but Can lead to infertility. Can be
may cause painful urination, vaginal discharge, and passed on to new-born during
infertility; curable delivery
Genital herpes: Painful genital blisters, several attacks per year; canCan lead to cervical cancer,
be treated, but is not currently curable which may lead to death. Can
be passed on to new-born
Gonorrhea: May produce vaginal discharge and pelvic pain but Can lead to infertility Can be
may not have visible symptoms; curable passed on to new-born during
Syphilis: Painless sores; may produce rash on the body, but Can be passed on to fetus
may not have visible symptoms; curable prenatally and can be passed
on to new-born during delivery Many women who do not seek early treatment for these infections will become infertile, or
passed on to new-borns.
HPV is the most common of the STD in the U.S, especially among people between the ages of 15
College women are much less likely to contract HPV if their sexual partners consistently used
Women and Substance Abuse
-Pattern of substance abuse is different for women and men
-Substance abuse is diagnosed differently in men and women, screening test are based on male norm,
neglect common female risk factors.
-Substance abuse frequently causes illness and death in women.
Largest preventable cause of death in U>S and Canada.
Fo reasons not clear, smoking increases the chance of lung cancer more for women than it does
Women who smoke are more likely than non-smoking women to die of lung cancer, several
other kinds of cancer, emphysema and other lung diseases, heart disease, and stroke, also has
gynecological consequences such as increase risk of cervical cancer, infertility, miscarriages,
premature birth, and early menopause.
Babies born to smokers weigh less than babies born to non-smokers.
Women married to men who smoke are significantly more likely to develop lung cancer and
heart disease than women married to non-smokers.
Cigarette delivers nicotine (addictive substance), long-term smokers seldom quit smoking, even
with carefully designed smoking-cessation programs.
Ethnicity is related to tobacco use where Native Americans have the highest rates, followed by
European Americans, Blacks, Latinas/os, and Asian Americans.
Education is also highly correlated with tobacco use.
Young women start smoking may due to peer pressure, or use cigarette as a mean to control
their weight and keep slim.
Tobacco industry cigarette ads contribute to the death of hundreds of thousands of women by
appealing to their interests in staying slim and looking glamorous.
Alcohol Abuse: Pattern of alcohol use that repeatedly leads to significant impairment, includes missing
work or school, arrests for alcohol-related crimes, or family problems.
Problems caused by Alcohol Numerous direct effects on women health, liver disease, ulcers, brain damage, high blood
pressure, heart attacks, strokes, cognitive problems, and various cancers.
Fetal alcohol syndrome: children born to alcoholic mother; characterized by facial abnormalities,
retarded physical growth, psychological abnormalities, and mental retardation.
Indirect effect such as automobile accidents.
Alcohol abuse also increases the number of death from injuries, drowning, fires, violent crimes,
Gender and Alcohol
Across all age group, women are less likely than men to consume alcohol, especially large for
Male and female with the same body weight consume the same amount of alcohol the women
will have a significantly higher blood alcohol level, due to the difference of metabolism rate.
Binge drinking: Five or more drinks in a row for males and four or more drinks in a row for
females, during the preceding two weeks.
-Frequently report in doing something they later regretted, engaged in unplanned sexual
activity, and unprotected sexual intercourse.
Families are more likely to deny that female family members have a problem with alcohol.
Society disapproves more strongly if a woman gets drunk at a party, therefore women may be
more reluctant to admit to a drinking problem.
Abuse of other substances:
Abuse of prescription medicines.
In general, females and males have similar rates for the nonmedical use of psychotherapeutic
Males are more likely than females to use illegal drugs.
Educational status is related to illicit drug use.
European American female students were more likely than Black females’ students to have tried
illegal drugs at some point in their lives.
Some data suggest that women may metabolize illegal drugs differently than women do.
Women at risk for health problems are invisible and their health needs are often ignored.
Women and Psychological Disorders
Psychological Disorders: People who have emotions, thoughts and behaviors that are typically
maladaptive, distressing to themselves, and different from the social norm.
Women more likely than men to suffer from both depression and eating disorders.
-More likely to seek therapy for these problems too.
Men more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs -Three times more likely than women to have antisocial Personality disorders (Behaviors that
clearly violate the rights of other people, behaviors include excessive aggressiveness,
impulsiveness, and lying.)
-Those with antisocial personality disorder tend to attribute the blame onto those in the world,
instead of one’s self.
Incidence of psychological disorders in women and men is roughly similar, specific types of
disorders may differ.
Major Depressive Disorder: One who experience frequent episodes of hopelessness and low self-
esteem; seldom finds pleasure in any activities.
World Health Organization lists depression as one of five most prevalent health threats
throughout the world.
U.S and Canada, Women are two to three times more likely than men to experience depression
in their lifetime.
No consistent gender differences in depression among young children.
-Female begin reporting more depressive symptoms around puberty
-Gender difference last throughout lifetime
Gender differences in depression are substantial for all U.S and Canada ethnic groups.
Cross-cultural studies report women are more likely than men to experience depression.
Characteristics of Depression
Disorder that includes emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and physical symptoms.
1. Emotional symptoms: Sad, gloomy, tearful, apathetic, irritable, and inability to experience
2. Cognitive symptoms: Negative mood and thoughts about oneself, (Inadequacy, worthlessness,
helplessness, self-blame, and pessimism about the future.)
-Negative thought interfere with normal functioning
-trouble concentrating and making decisions
-remember negative information more accurately than positive information.
3. Physical symptoms: Illness such as headaches, dizzy spells fatigue, indigestion, and generalized
pain. Some may gain weight, some may lose weight.
4. Behavioral symptoms: Decrease ability to do ordinary tasks, productivity at work, neglected
personal appearance, social interactions, and sleep problems.
-Attempts of suicide. (U.S, Canada, women more likely to think about this and attempts, yet
men more likely to succeed in attempt.)
-Gender difference in rates of death from suicide is found the same in most developed
countries, except for some countries such as China, where women are more likely than men to
die from suicide. Most people have occasional episodes of extreme sadness that occurs after a personal
loss, family members or friends. Typically do not continue for many years after loss.
Women with major depression tends to struggle with persistent depression, without