Psyc of Women (Test 3 Text Notes)
Chapter 11: Women and Physical Health
Health Psychology: area of psychology that focuses on the causes of illness, the treatment of
illness, illness prevention, and health improvement.
Three (3) major reasons why these health problems are important (1) Gender makes a difference
in the health problems people experience, an example is how women worry about ovarian cancer
but not prostate. Women also have less fluid and more fat, making alcohol more noticeable in
their blood. (2) Gender makes a difference in the way a disease is diagnosed, viewed, and treated;
women’s disease symptoms are often considered different from the norm. Osteoporosis a
primarily women’s disease is now receiving more attention then before. (3) Illness is an important
part of many women’s experiences, chronic health problems: long-lasting illness that cannot be
completely cured (70% of deaths each year).
Two central issues, how does gender influence people’s physical health, and how does women’s
physical health influence their lives?
THE HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH STATUS OF WOMEN
Biases that make women patience become second-class citizens (1) Women have often
been neglected in medicine and in medical research, the male’s body has been considered
normative, women’s body has previously been looked at as identical to men’s just smaller.
(i.e. women were given aspirin to reduce heart attack because it showed affective in men,
but this was not the case for women). Now women are studied in the medical field as well,
and ethnic minorities. (2) Gender stereotypes are common in medicine, physicians still
believe women’s complaints are not as important then men’s and that women are more
emotional. (3) Medical care provided to women is often inadequate or irresponsible: “too
little” or “too much” health care, i.e. hysterectomies and caesarian sections being
performed too often, men often receive more attention in coronary heart disease while
many women receive too little even thought the disease affects them equally. (4)
Physician-patient communication patterns often make women feel relatively powerless,
women often feel male physicians are not listening to them, and they feel interrupted
Women live longer than men do on average 5 years longer, some reasons are that the
extra X chromosome protect them from health problems, another reason is that men take
part in more dangerous jobs and are more likely to commit suicide, homicide, and be in
vehicle accidents. Women also visit the doctor more frequently, and are more sensitive to
internal signals about health.
Morbidity: generalized poor health or illness. Women are more prone to this and are more
likely to have obesity, anemia, and respiratory illness. Women are also more likely to
become ill after being raped, or to report pain from a disease such as arthritis.
Those who are richer tend to live longer, this is usually due to accessibility to health care, in
the states richer people have privatized health care insurance, which accounts for longer
lives. Women of colour are more likely to receive second-class health care, and often- aboriginal women have low life expectancies. Low-income housing is often in toxic
crowded areas that contribute to illness
In developing countries women receive little or no health care compared to men, and
often sons will be treated but not daughters, only wealthy families will receive equal
medical care amongst family members. Women are likely to receive less food an twice as
likely to die during childbirth.
Female Genital Mutilation: cutting or removing a section of the female’s genitals, usually
part or the entire clitoris. This is to prevent women from being sexually active; sometimes
the labia majora (vagina walls) are stitched together only leaving a small hole for urination
and menstruation. Usually performed on girls between 4 and puberty. The procedure is
done by an older female and is to reduce sexual urges outside of marriage, and also is
looked at as making the vagina cleaner. A razor blade, piece of glass, or rock is usually used
in the procedure.
Cardiovascular Disease: includes heart attacks and other disorders of the heart, also clots
and other disorders of the blood vessels. This disease is deadlier than all cancers combined
(23% of women’s deaths). Men are more likely to have the disease earlier but at 75 the risk
is equal; black women are more likely to have it then white.
Breast Cancer: cancer in the breast associated as a women’s disease, white women are
more likely to have it but black women are more likely to die from it. Mammogram: an X-
ray of the breast, picture of breast tissue. Breast cancer at all early age is most commonly
treated by lumpectomy: surgery that removes the cancerous lump and the immediate
surrounding breast tissue.
Cervical Cancer: affects lower portion of the uterus, a test in which detects the disease is a
Pap smear test: the gynecologist takes a sample of cells from the cervix to see whether
they are normal, precancerous, or cancerous.
Osteoporosis: the bones become dense and more fragile with age; 4 times more likely in
women, prevention is to exercise including jogging and weight lifting.
WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES
Disability: refers to physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s ability to perform
a major life activity in a “normal manner.” Ableism: refers to discrimination on the basis of
disability (i.e. treating disabled like children). People use disabilities to label people “the girl
in the wheelchair” Women are more likely to be discriminated against when having a
disability, and also less likely to continue education after high school. Women with
disability have less romantic partners.
AIDS AND OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): viral disease spread by infected semen,
vaginal secretions, or blood; destroys bodies’ immune system. This is caused by Human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV): which has potential to destroy parts of the immune system.
Women are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted disease then men are. The symptoms of AIDS includes fatigue, rashes, unexplained fever, unintentional weight loss, and diarrhea.
These individuals are highly contagious. Medicines are used to prolong the disease and
women are more likely to use this medicine.
HIV can damage the nervous system producing psychological problems including memory
loss, and cognitive problems. Many countries are raising AIDS awareness and the important
precautions needed in order to reduce the spread of aids.
Disease Description (for women) Consequences (for women)
HPV (Genital Warts) Caused by various strains of Can lead to cervical cancer,
human papilloma virus; which may lead to death.