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How Does Men's Health Differ From Women's Health?

By Molly McAdams ; Updated August 14, 2017

Aside from the obvious differences in reproductive health, there are several other ways that men's health differs from women's. Men and women often experience different symptoms for the same medical problem. Men are also at higher risk of developing certain conditions, such as kidney stones, and women are at higher risk of developing others, such as osteoporosis, or thinning bones. Because there are differences in men's and women's health, different approaches are sometimes taken to prevent and treat various health conditions.


In eight out of the 10 leading causes of death, the death rate is higher for men than for women, Harvard Medical School reports. These include the top three causes of death for both sexes: heart disease, cancer and stroke. Men not only become ill and die at a younger age than women, they develop more chronic diseases throughout their lifetimes. Men are also more than twice as likely as women to die from liver disease, HIV/AIDS and suicide. Women, on the other hand, are somewhat more likely to die from Alzheimer's disease.


Some health conditions affect both men and women, but occur more frequently in one or the other. For example, both men and women see urologists for urinary tract issues such as kidney or bladder stones, but men also see urologists for specific health care issues as enlarged prostate, prostate cancer and other conditions that only affect men. Some urological conditions affect both men and women, but at significantly different rates. Men are twice as likely to get kidney stones, but women are almost five times as like to develop interstitial cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder.

Risk Factors

High blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease that affects both men and women. From the age of 55 on, however, women have higher cholesterol levels than men, according to the American Heart Association. When women have high levels of triglycerides, or blood fats, and low levels of protective HDL cholesterol, they may be at higher risk than men of developing heart disease.

In addition to clinical risk factors such as cholesterol levels and general medical history, risk factors that put men at higher risk than women of developing and dying from certain medical conditions may include risky behavior, aggression, alcohol and substance abuse, diet, lack of social networks and lack of routine medical care, according to Harvard Medical School.


The difference in men's and women's anatomies account for many ways that men's health differs from women's. Hormone types and levels vary between men and women and these variations affect health in different ways. Men and women develop different types of medical problems, including different types of cancers, due to gender-specific body parts. Health concerns that are specific to women's anatomy include uterine fibroids and cervical and ovarian cancer. Health conditions specific to men's anatomy include prostatitis and testicular cancer. At the same time, men and women both experience sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but anatomical differences may cause different symptoms and create different risk factors.


Some ways that men's health differs from women's health are due to lifestyle choices. For instance, Dr. Stephanie Hochman, at the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University, finds that hammertoes are much more common in women than in men, as are nerve problems in the feet, because women are more likely to wear poorly-fitted shoes. On the other hand, Dr. Hochman finds that men are treated for more tendon tears and fractures in the feet. As a result, some of her general preventive health care advice is tailored more towards one sex or the other.

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