International Women's Day: A Guide of Autoimmune Disease!

Dr. Kirti Khewalkar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kirti Khewalkar

Gynaecologist and Obstetrician

5 min read

Key Takeaways

  • The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Break The Bias’
  • Chromosomal and hormonal changes are main autoimmune disease causes
  • A family history is the first step of an autoimmune disease diagnosis process

International Women’s Day (IWD) is globally celebrated every year to spotlight women and their achievements. It also helps spread awareness about women’s rights and the issues they face. International Women’s Day history dates back to 1911 when it was celebrated for the first time.

Every year, IWD focuses on a specific theme. The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is to #BreakTheBias. This is to encourage people to overcome the prejudice against women in communities, workplaces, and educational institutions. During this time, it is also important to address women’s health. Another bias that you should know about in this case is how autoimmune diseases affect women more than men.

Around 80% of people suffering from an autoimmune condition are women. This high ratio is a result of hormonal and sex chromosome changes [1]. Read on for a brief insight on autoimmune disease causes, diagnosis, and prevention.

An introduction to autoimmune disease 

The immune system is a complex network of organs and cells. It helps fight germs and other unknown substances. The key principle on which your immune system works is the ability to tell the difference between self and other. On identifying a foreign pathogen, it produces antibodies to purge infections. When there is a flaw in this ability, your immune system produces autoantibodies instead. They mistakenly attack your normal cells.  

During this time, the T cells of your body may also misfunction and attack your own healthy cells. This misguided attack and the damage it causes is commonly known as autoimmune disease. There are over 80 known types of this disease. Here are some of these which commonly affect women more than men.  

  • Psoriasis 
  • Lupus 
  • Graves’ disease 
  • Type 1 diabetes 
  • Sjogren’s syndrome 
  • Celiac disease 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease  
  • Vitiligo 
  • Hashimoto’s disease 
  • Alopecia areata 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis<span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":240}"> 
  • Multiple sclerosis<span data-ccp-props="{"201341983":0,"335559739":0,"335559740":240}"> 
Additional Read: Warning signs of bladder cancer in women women's related Diseases

Common symptoms of autoimmune disease  

Every autoimmune condition may present different symptoms in different people. But there are a few symptoms that are common for most of these diseases. Knowing them will allow you to either rule out or help you get a timely autoimmune disease diagnosis. Here are some symptoms you can watch out for: 

  • Recurring fever 
  • Malaise or general feeling of illness 
  • Rash 
  • Fatigue 
  • Joint pain 
  • Digestive problems or pain in the abdomen 
  • Swollen glands 
  • Dizziness 

These symptoms may come and go and may be severe or mild, depending on the type of condition you have. Remission refers to the time when you do not experience such symptoms. Flares are when your symptoms appear severely and suddenly.  

Autoimmune disease causes 

The exact autoimmune disease cause is still unclear. Research suggests two reasons to explain why it affects women more than men. 

Hormonal changes 

Autoimmune diseases usually affect women when there are major changes in the endocrine system. These include the durations of menopause, pregnancy, and puberty. The changes during this time influence your immune system in significant ways due to its interaction with hormones and organs. Women generally experience more hormonal changes than men. This makes them more prone to autoimmune conditions.  

Chromosomal changes 

The X chromosome contains more genes than the Y chromosome, which leads to a larger possibility of mutations. This is one of the reasons that autoimmune diseases affect more women than men.  

As a result of these two autoimmune disease causes, women are twice as likely to have a positive autoimmune disease diagnosis than men [2]. 

Additional Read: Vaginal Dryness Affects Health And How To Reduce It

International Women's Day - 16

Autoimmune disease diagnosis 

Many autoimmune conditions have similar symptoms to each other as well as other health issues. This is why getting the right autoimmune disease diagnosis is particularly challenging.  

Tissue biopsies and blood tests are commonly used for certain autoimmune disease diagnosis. Some of the conditions that these test can help diagnose are: 

Keep in mind that there is no single test that helps determine the presence of all autoimmune conditions. This is why doctors usually ask you for your family history and symptom history for a diagnosis.  

Autoimmune disease prevention tips 

Autoimmune disease causes include your genetics as well as certain risk factors. They include: 

You can simply control these factors, which make autoimmune disease prevention possible!  

Doctors also recommend the following tips for autoimmune disease prevention: 

One of the ways you can effectively manage and treat an autoimmune condition is by knowing its symptoms and getting immediate help. If you notice any symptoms, you can book an appointment for an in-clinic or online doctor consultation on Bajaj Finserv Health. Apart from autoimmune conditions, you can address common issues that affect women this way too. For instance, find out more about bladder cancer, learn what is vaginal dryness and get a guide to cervical cancer. You can talk to doctors from more than 35 specialties here to ease your health worries. You can also book tests on the platform to stay on top of your health. This International Women’s Day take proactive steps for your health and lead by example!

Published on 8 Mar 2022Last updated on 30 Nov 2022

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Kirti Khewalkar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kirti Khewalkar

, MBBS 1 , MS - Obstetrics and Gynaechology 3


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