Obviously, I’m a woman (gosh, I hope that’s obvious!), I’m also a woman with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Is there a slight connection of my developing this condition to my gender? Do women respond to the disease and treatment differently from men? These have been two questions that I thought would be interesting to get some answers to.
So what is this relationship between being a woman and having Rheumatoid Arthritis? RA can strike at any age, but most commonly a sufferer will first be afflicted in between the ages of 30 to 60, and it’s 2-3 times more common in women than in men. Several studies suggest that women experience more pain with Rheumatoid Arthritis than men. Now some may say that men can handle pain better… talk to me after you’ve had a baby!
At Karolinska Institute in Sweden researchers have been doing a few studies on some gender-specific tests on RA and some interesting results are being discovered. For instance, life quality is eventually more impaired for female sufferers than it is for male sufferers, the underlying reason may be that the medications are tolerated differently between men and women.
A study at the Institute on a specific therapy revealed that men responded significantly better to the therapy than women who had the same treatment, joint swelling and the sufferers own experience of the disease was also taken into consideration. The therapy just seemed to have a better affect on the men than on the women, the women felt sicker than the men. Hmmm, interesting.
This was something I found very relevant- women often develop Rheumatoid Arthritis when sex hormones are changing, perhaps after pregnancy or menopause. It’s not clear why this is but researchers have made a connection between hormonal factors and a woman’s chance of developing RA. This seems to be where I find my link.
Just before my second daughter was born I was put on blood thinners because of a brain clot (I’m going to need to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life) and because of the thinness of my blood, every month I was in incredible pain and losing so much blood I was becoming anaemic. Eventually I received a hysterectomy in 2004 which made life SO much better, but 10 months later I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis- coincidence?
Being a man may have made things a bit easier but I just wouldn’t look as good in my favorite bikini! I’m still VERY happy being a woman, even a woman with Rheumatoid Arthritis.