Women and Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease attacks and damages the nerves in the brain. Common side effects of the disease include muscle stiffness, tremors in the head and/or hands, slowness in movement and impaired balance. But did you know that women are less like likely to develop Parkinson’s? It’s been reported that they can experience different symptoms outside the common ones and sometimes receive lower quality of care.
Women are 1.5 times less likely to develop Parkinson’s than men. It is not 100% known why this is, but researchers at the Parkinson’s Foundation believe that the following factors might play a part:
- Environmental factors such as exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, or head injuries
- Estrogen levels
Parkinson’s Symptoms in Women
- small handwriting
- loss of smell
- hard time sleeping
- difficulty moving / walking
- a soft voice
- stooping over / bad posture
The difference in men and women’s early symptoms is that women have reported tremors as their initial sign, while men report changes in their balance or posture.
According to a 2020 study, they have found that symptoms may appear later in women, resulting that they are unaware they have Parkinson’s in the first place.
Typical treatment for Parkinson’s includes medications (levodopa) as well as surgery (lesion surgery and deep brain stimulation).
The treatment for Parkinson’s disease in women is the same as it is for men. However, the Parkinson’s Foundation has found that women do not always respond well to the treatments. They tend to have a higher chance of involuntary muscle movement when taking levodopa. Whether its because of a lower body weight, the dosage of the medicine or when Parkinson’s is discovered, doctors have found it difficult to fine-tune the treatment for Parkinson’s in women.
One thing researchers have collected through pattern and research is that estrogen could play a big role into why Parkinson’s is less likely to occur in women. Estrogen helps to:
- release dopamine
- protect against oxidative stress
- protect against damage from inflammation
More information on the impact Parkinson’s has in women can be found here.