10 Health Mistakes Women Make

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Lewis, PharmD on March 7, 2021

Women tend to prioritize the health needs of their family above their own. Avoid these 10 common health traps to achieve better health.

  • Hands Presenting Heart
    Mistake 1: Not Taking Heart Disease Seriously
    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. But women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men. They’re also more likely to have delays in emergency care. What’s more, women tend to have different heart attack symptoms than men. In addition to chest pain, women often experience shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back, neck or jaw pain. Take these signs seriously.
  • teenage-girl-visits-doctors-office-suffering-with-depression
    Mistake 2: Ignoring Mental Health
    Women are more likely than men to suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, depression is the most common mental health problem among women. And it can strike at any stage of life, including during and after pregnancy. Many women never seek treatment. Left untreated, depression can lead to other health problems and keep you from caring for those who rely on you. So don’t ignore feelings that stay with you for more than a couple of weeks.
  • Red wine toast
    Mistake 3: Drinking Too Much Alcohol
    Many people enjoy drinking alcohol when socializing with family or friends. For most women, light to moderate drinking—about one drink per day—isn’t harmful. But for the 5.3 million American women who abuse alcohol, the effects can be serious and include an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, unprotected sex, and birth defects. Talk with your doctor about your alcohol use before your health is at risk.
  • young-woman-with-hands-to-temples
    Mistake 4: Not Dealing With Stress
    A certain amount of stress is part of daily life. But more women than men report having stress. And stress has unique effects in women—women tend to experience physical symptoms of stress more than men. Stress can also decrease your chances of becoming pregnant and increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Deal with your stress by connecting with loved ones, practicing relaxation techniques, exercising, or meditating.
  • enjoying-a-relaxing-weekend-sleeping-in
    Mistake 5: Not Getting Enough Sleep
    Lack of sleep contributes to a number of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, and depression. Adults need 7 to 8 hours each night. Not meeting that requirement can affect how you feel and perform the next day. And women are more likely than men to have trouble falling or staying asleep. Make a healthy move and talk to your doctor about your sleep habits. Learn ways to improve your sleep and commit to getting enough sleep.
  • Doctor In Surgery With Female Patient Writing Prescription
    Mistake 6: Skipping Checkups and Screenings
    Seeing your doctor for regular checkups and screenings could save your life. Many health hazards that affect women are more easily treatable when your doctor finds them early. The screenings you need depend on your age. They include Pap tests, mammograms, blood pressure checks, cholesterol tests, bone density tests, STD screenings, and colonoscopies. Talk with your doctor about which ones you need and when to get them. Then make the appointments and keep them.
  • Senior woman walking through park with friends in background
    Mistake 7: Not Knowing How to Prevent Strokes
    Each year, stroke affects more women than men. And it isn’t a disease limited to old people, though the risk does increase with age. Women of any age can have a stroke. Risk factors unique to women include taking birth control pills, being pregnant, using hormone replacement therapy, having frequent migraines, and having a waist larger than 35.2 inches. Prevention strategies include controlling your blood pressure, not smoking, getting health screenings, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol.
  • woman-controlling-her-weight-on-a-scale
    Mistake 8: Not Maintaining a Healthy Weight
    Over 60% of American women are overweight. And about one-third of these women are obese. You probably know the health risks of being overweight, such as joint pain, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. You probably also know that eating healthy and being physically active is the way to lose weight and maintain it. But for many women, it’s not that simple. Talk with your doctor about ways to deal with the emotional and cultural factors that may be playing a role.
  • Young Woman Applying Cream On Her Face
    Mistake 9: Forgetting to Wear Daily Sunscreen
    Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It usually occurs on areas that get a lot of sun, including your face. And while most skin cancers happen after age 50, sun damage starts at an early age. The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable. Wear a daily sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and other signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles and age spots. Consider a moisturizer or foundation with sunscreen for your face.
  • Young man kissing woman on shoulder
    Mistake 10: Not Paying Attention to Sexual Health
    STIs (sexually transmitted infections) can have serious consequences for women. They cause about 24,000 cases of infertility in the United States each year. What’s more, women may not experience symptoms. When they do, they may mistake the condition for something else, such as a yeast infection. Women who have multiple sex partners and don’t use condoms are at highest risk. Talk with your doctor about your risk and get regular screenings for STIs.
10 Health Mistakes Women Make
  1. Depression Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression.html?from=AtoZ.
  2. Heart Disease Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/heart-disease.html.
  3. How Much Is Too Much? National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/WhatCountsDrink/HowMuchIsTooMuch.asp
  4. Insomnia Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/insomnia.html?from=AtoZ.
  5. Inspiration for a Healthy New Year. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/features/healthynewyear/.
  6. Overweight, Obesity, and Weight Loss Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/overweight-weight-loss.html?fro....
  7. Screening Tests for Women. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/screening-tests-and-vaccines/screening-tests-for-women/index.html.
  8. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/sexually-transmitted-infections.htm....
  9. Skin Cancer Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/skin-cancer.html?from=AtoZ.
  10. Stress and Your Health Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/stress-your-health.html?from=At....
  11. Stroke Fact Sheet. Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/stroke.html?from=AtoZ.
  12. What Health Issues or Conditions Affect Women Differently Than Men? National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/womenshealth/conditioninfo/pages/howconditions.aspx.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 7
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.