Anyone can get rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but from the number of people who get rheumatoid arthritis to how it affects them, the disease can be different for women than it is for men.
While doctors have cited many reasons for these differences, they all agree that the most important thing is to better understand the facts so you can better control your symptoms.
Fast Facts About Women and RA
Though scientists don’t know what causes RA, they do know it hits women harder:
- More women than men have rheumatoid arthritis. About 1.3 million American adults have RA. Nearly three times more women have the disease than men.
- Rheumatoid arthritis tends to strike women younger. Many women are at the height of careers and child-care responsibilities when it strikes.
- Women with RA are less likely than men to be in remission. A study released in 2009 showed that women are about half as likely to be in remission. In the study, 17% of women were in remission compared to 30% of men.
Recent studies have revealed other important differences for women with RA.
RA Is on the Rise in Women
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic reported in 2008 that while RA appears to have been on the decline from 1955 and 1994 in the U.S., that no longer appears to be the case for women. The study found that from 1995 to 2005 the number of women who got RA increased by nearly 50% over the number that got it in the previous decade. RA rates among men remained stable.
Studies Show RA To Be More Severe in Women
In a large study released in 2009, researchers found that women with RA reported more symptoms — and more severe symptoms — even when they appeared to have the same level of the disease as men. Women also did not respond as well to the same treatment — both in terms of what their doctors could measure, like swollen joints, and in terms of how they described their symptoms.