Women’s Health Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms

Adolescence

During adolescence, teenagers are always concerned about breast development, beginning menstrual cycles, and even shaving their legs. These may or may not be signs of endocrine disorders.

What happens if a girl doesn't develop breasts or hair or have periods when expected?

There is a wide variation in the time of expected puberty. If a girl has not developed breasts and axillary and pubic hair by the age of 14 and has not by age 16, she should undergo medical evaluation. Although in some cases, this may simply reflect either a family trait or a harmless deviation from "normal," this may be the first sign of a number of medical conditions, including thyroid, adrenal, pituitary or ovarian disorders. At times, undernutrition or excessive exercise may delay the onset of puberty (see below).

Also, adrenal disease may be a consideration for girls who fail to begin menstruating or have irregular periods, excess facial and body hair, and acne. An early rapid growth spurt followed by a premature end to the growing period can cause short stature. Sometimes these symptoms can seem to have the same presentation as PCOS.

Middle Age

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia are the most important and common risk factors for heart attacks in women. Women who have insulin resistance are at particular risk. Women with type 2 diabetes have an extremely high risk of heart disease and the symptoms of heart disease may be different from the typical symptoms. They may not have chest pain but merely fatigue, weakness during exercise, or other vague symptoms. Women with diabetes should be regularly tested for silent heart disease and should follow strict guidelines to control blood sugars, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Certain medications may be prescribed to reduce the risk of heart disease or reduce the risk of a second heart attack in a woman who has already had one. These may include statin drugs, aspirin, ACE inhibitors or Angiotensin blockers, and beta blockers. It is very important for women with diabetes to let their physicians know about any symptoms they might be having.