According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare a chronic condition is a long lasting condition “defined as a physical or mental disturbance involving symptoms (such as pain or feeling unwell), dysfunction or tissue damage that may lead to ill health.” These chronic conditions or diseases have implications on the whole person.
There are many chronic conditions that only impact women and not men (or less frequently) due to differences in our biological, genetic and hormonal makeup. For example, 75% of autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, impact women and Turners and Rett syndromes only affect women. Women also have conditions related directly to our reproductive system such as endometriosis, cervical or uterine cancers and disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, breast cancer and pelvic floor weaknesses. Women are more likely to have conditions such as osteoporosis, other conditions impacting bone health and anaemia. More than 40% of Australian women have experienced a mental health problem in their lifetime.
And women are more likely than men to have multiple chronic conditions.
Women may experience a chronic condition in different ways than men as they present differently in women and so are often overlooked. For example, men and women may have different symptoms of a heart attack.
And women are impacted by these conditions at younger ages, impacting on their life long term. This means that women need to use health services frequently and over their whole life course.