Here are some of the conditions that present different challenges for women.


  • Because women’s esophagi are more sensitive to irritants, they may experience heartburn more strongly than men, but they generally have less damage in their esophagi than men.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome occurs two to six times more often in women than in men.
  • Women often have slower gallbladder emptying than men and are twice as likely to develop gallstones.

Sleep-related issues

  • Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms often reported by men include snoring, waking up gasping for air or snorting, but many women report other symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety and depression.
  • Sleep apnea in women is commonly mistaken for depression, hypertension, hypochondria or other disorders.
  • Women are more likely than men to report insomnia.

Heart disease

  • The classic heart attack symptoms of feeling pressure or squeezing in the chest and down the arm aren’t always present in women. Instead, many women feel sharp, burning chest pain, and they’re more likely to have neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back pain.
  • In men, angina tends to worsen with physical activity and go away with rest. Women are more likely than men to have angina while they’re resting or sleeping.
  • Women tend to have more heart-failure symptoms, such as shortness of breath, difficulty exercising and swelling around their ankles more frequently than men.


  • Women have less loss of balance and coordination when having strokes. They have more changes in mental status (confusion, unconsciousness) and more nausea, heart attacklike symptoms, and severe headaches than men.
  • Men have more atherosclerotic strokes, and women have more cardioembolic strokes.
  • Women have additional risk factors for stroke — birth control pill use, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy and migraines.

Autoimmune disease

  • Many autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus, are more common in women than men.
  • The severity of autoimmune diseases differs between genders. For example, psoriasis is more severe in males, while the clinical course in Crohn’s disease is more severe in women.
  • Males with systemic lupus erythematosus are more likely to suffer renal and cardiovascular comorbidities, while females are more likely to suffer from urinary tract infections, hypothyroidism, depression, esophageal reflux, asthma and fibromyalgia.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease more markedly in women than in men, and females with diabetes have a greater risk of mortality than males with diabetes.
  • Women with type 2 diabetes more often have depression, anxiety and low energy levels compared with diabetic men.
  • Diabetic men are more likely to have foot ulcers and lower limb amputations, while diabetic women are prone to urinary tract and vaginal infections.