Rheumatoid arthritis: How women are more at risk

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 19, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is more common among women than men.
  • Women with RA are less likely than men to reach remission.
  • RA may be worse for women.
  • Some women may also have fibromyalgia, which can worsen RA symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect anyone, though women are more prone to it as compared with men. Each gender develops RA in different ways and the more you know about it, the better you can manage it.

In America where 1.3 million adults have RA, nearly three times more women have it than men. Rheumatoid arthritis also tends to attack women at a younger age than men. Women also may not have any symptoms early in the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Researchers have found that RA is worse in women. Even when they have the same level of the disease as men, they will experience more than one symptom in its more severe state. Also, they don’t respond as well to the same treatment as men do.

The role of hormones

No one knows why some women may also have fibromyalgia, which can worsen RA symptoms. Some experts think the medicines that treat RA affect the genders differently.

Sometimes, a shift in sex hormone, usually after pregnancy or around menopause, may give RA to women. It tends to improve during pregnancy and may flare again after delivery. However, breastfeeding may decrease a woman’s likelihood of getting rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study, women who breastfed for two years or more cut their risk for RA by half.

Hand exercises for RA

What does it mean for you

Anyone with RA, regardless of their gender, should start the treatment as early as possible. They can slow the disease or prevent joint damage and complications such as osteoarthritis and heart disease. Putting RA into remission ASAP is the goal.

Besides medicines, the patient should also stay at a healthy weight, sleep adequately, exercise regularly, rest when they need to and eat a healthy diet. You should also ask for help and support if you get tired and let your loved ones know what you need.

Image Source: Getty

Read more articles on Understand Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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