Conditions that affect men and women differently

We know men and women are different – but did you realise how that affects your health too?


A few years ago there was a book that was published called Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, which was about the different way men and women relate emotionally.

I think of this article as the health symptom equivalent because men and women are affected differently by the same conditions.

Helpful I hope for both you and any of the men in your life.

Heart attack

The telltale heart attack sign of feeling like there’s an elephant sitting on your chest isn’t as common in women as it is in men.

Many women feel upper back pressure, jaw pain, and are short of breath, or they may feel sick and dizzy instead.

Though heart disease is a leading cause of death for both genders, women are more likely to die after they have a heart attack.

This can often be related to the fact that they do not recognise they are having a heart attack, and nor do others. Sadly it often requires a longer hospital stay, and they are more likely to die before leaving the hospital.

This may be due to the fact that women who suffer a heart attack have more untreated risk factors, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.


There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year. That is around one stroke every five minutes and it is the fourth biggest killer.

Common symptoms are sudden weakness on one side, loss of speech and balance, and confusion. But women often have additional or different symptoms: fainting, agitation, hallucinations, vomiting, pain, hiccups, and seizures.

Women typically have a worse recovery after a stroke, too.


Men have a one in two chance of being diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime; for women, the chance is one in three, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Men are most likely to get prostate, colorectal, lung and skin cancers. Women get more sex specific cancers of the breast, uterus and ovaries. However, lung and bowel cancers together account for over half (54%) of all new cases in women in the UK.


Men are more likely than women to have serious cases of COVID-19, though it’s not clear why. Statistics from March 2020 to February 2021 found that while more men died from COVID-19, women’s wellbeing was more negatively affected.

It could be because men are more likely to have health problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, that raise the odds for severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Another possible reason: women tend to have stronger immune systems than men, thanks to their hormones, but women are significantly more likely than men to experience long COVID.

Recent research on COVID has also shown that women are experiencing changes in the menstrual cycle and unexplained vaginal bleeding after vaccination. The latter affects women who are not menstruating.

Hair loss

Men are far more likely to lose hair as they age than women. Some 40% of women will have hair thinning or hair loss, but 85% of men will have thinning hair by age 50.

Men tend to lose hair in the same pattern — their hairline goes farther and farther back – called a receding hairline.

They may also get a bald spot on the crown of their head. Women have either thinning all over or random bald patches.


Hormones are often to blame for acne. Because women’s hormones shift during periods, pregnancy, and throughout menopause, they’re more prone to adult acne than men.

Treatment can vary based on your sex, too as doctors tend to prescribe medications that control hormones, like birth control, for women.

Creams that you rub onto your skin are more common for men.


Women are more likely to say they’re stressed than men but both sexes feel anger, crankiness, and muscle tension at near the same rates from stress.

Women more often say it causes a headache, upset stomach, or makes them feel like they need to cry. Men are less likely to report physical symptoms during times of stress than women.


More women live with chronic pain (pain that lasts longer than 6 months and doesn’t seem to respond to treatment) than men.

Their pain also tends to last longer and be more intense. Doctors are still trying to figure out why, but they think differences in hormones between the sexes may be to blame.


Because women are more likely to get osteoporosis, it’s often overlooked in men, but he condition is 4 times more likely in women than men.

Women over the age of 50 are the most likely to develop osteoporosis because our lighter, thinner bones and longer life spans are part of the reason we have a higher risk.

Men can get osteoporosis, too — it’s just less common.But men who are oestrogen dominant and who have this lack of bone density and break a hip are twice as likely to die than women with osteoporosis who break a hip.


Although women tend to get urinary tract infections more often, men’s UTIs are more complicated. They have different causes, too.

Women most often get them because of bacteria from sex or faeces because our urethra is shorter and closer to that area.

Men’s UTIs are more likely to arise from something that blocks their urine stream, like an enlarged prostate or kidney stones.


Women are less likely to have symptoms with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like chlamydia and gonorrhoea. STDs can also lead to chronic pelvic inflammatory disease in women, causing fertility issues.

Men seldom have such complications. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is also the main cause of cervical cancer in women, but it doesn’t pose a similar risk for men.

Helpful information 

Knowing that there are differences is one thing, but doing something proactively to help prevent them is another.

For both sexes the key to avoiding and reducing risk is to have a healthy lifestyle with a good balanced diet, exercise, not smoking, or drinking to excess and reducing stress.

For women in particular hormone balance is certainly key and reducing the risks for cancer, stroke and heart disease are often linked to hormone imbalance.

If you are not sure whether you need help with that, then this article can shed some light.