You don't need an M.D. Degree to know that men and women are different. But do these gender differences impact physical and mental health? The answer is a resounding yes! One of the most striking differences occurs with life expectancy data: on average, women will live until they are 80 years old (compared to men, who can expect to live approximately 74 years). Other differences, thought a bit more subtle, are also important: many women are unaware that they can react differently to medication, are more vulnerable to certain diseases, and may experience different symptoms than men with similar conditions.
There are additional health-related differences between the two genders. For instance, women are more likely to visit the doctor than men. In 1998, the average number of health care dollars spent annually on females was $2,712 (vs. $2,132 for men). This higher health care expenditure rate for women is the result of more visits for conditions of the reproductive system (e.g., menopause, cervical cancer screening, pregnancy).
Women are also more likely to deal with health-related stressors than men. Women usually take the lead with regard to medical situations (e.g, deciding whether to take someone to a doctor, transporting them to the appointment, picking up medications) for their families as well as themselves. Women also provide the bulk of the care for ill or disabled family members (often in combination with caring for their own children).
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