May is Women's Health Care Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about health issues that are especially relevant to women. One such issue is hepatitis C (hep C), a viral infection that affects an estimated 2.4 million Americans(opens in a new tab)—many of whom are unaware they have it. While men and women are both at risk of developing hep C, there are a number of specific concerns that women should be aware of.
HepCMyWay is committed to helping anyone with a hepatitis c infection understand their condition better, make informed healthcare decisions, and get the treatment they need. In this article, we'll take a look at how hep C affects women differently than men, debunk some myths, and learn how HepCMyWay can help patients with a chronic infection of hepatitis C.
Is Hep C Different In Women And Men?
Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver, and it can be caught by anyone, regardless of their sex or gender. However, women do have a slight advantage when dealing with a hep C infection. When a person first comes into contact with the hep C virus, they develop an acute infection. An acute hepatitis c infection can last anywhere from two weeks to six months. Generally, women are able to fend off the virus more effectively(opens in a new tab) than men during this period. It's believed that this might be because estrogen, a female hormone, can act as an antiviral. This means that premenopausal women have a slightly higher chance of clearing the virus naturally than men. However, after menopause, when estrogen levels decrease, women become more susceptible to developing a chronic hepatitis C infection.
A chronic infection can cause long-term health complications if left untreated, like liver damage, liver disease, or liver cancer. In severe cases, this could lead to the need for a liver transplant, and potentially, liver failure. Premenopausal women still do see benefits here, as estrogen has been shown to protect the liver and slow damage caused by the disease. Luckily, with prompt and proper treatment, 95% of people with hepatitis C can be cured!
When it comes to hep C symptoms, female and male patients typically have the same experience. Symptoms of hepatitis C include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine. However, it can take some time to develop symptoms, making testing especially important.
How Is The Hepatitis C Virus Transmitted?
Hepatitis C is transmitted through the sharing of infected blood. In the past, before we screened blood donations for the disease, blood transfusion was a common means of transmission. Now, most cases are the result of sharing needles or syringes. Hep C is also commonly transmitted via unsafe tattooing practices or sharing personal items like razors, nail clippers, and toothbrushes.
In other words, most daily activities won't pose a risk for transmission. However, premenopausal women should also be aware that menstrual blood carries the virus, as well, and can potentially infect another person. More clearly, though sexual transmission rarely happens between members of a heterosexual relationship, it is possible(opens in a new tab) and can be linked back to menstrual blood. That being said, the risk is relatively low and can be minimized by using protection, like a condom during intercourse.
Can A Mother Transmit Hep C To Her Baby?
In short, yes, but it is uncommon. Hep C is transmitted from mother to child during birth in about 6% of cases, though the risk is higher for mothers who also have HIV. If you're hep C positive and pregnant, it's important to talk to your doctor and make sure you get the right care, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent transmission.
Once a baby is born, there is still a chance that hep C can be transmitted, though the risk is similarly low. For instance, it is safe for a hep C-positive mother to breastfeed, as long as her nipples aren't cracked or bleeding. Regardless of the low risk to the child, it's still worth seeking treatment for the mother, as hepatitis C can have serious complications, but can also be cured with the right medication.
How Can I Get Treatment?
HepCMyWay was created to help make treatment more accessible for people with hepatitis C. Our mission is to put the power in your hands and make sure you get the care you need. With Central Outreach Wellness Center’s five hepatitis C testing locations across Pennslyvania and Ohio and a team of dedicated hep C experts, we make sure that your experience is as easy and stress-free as possible.
Here's how our 3-step approach to hep C treatment works:
- Step 1: Fill out our patient-friendly form, or give us a call if you would prefer to speak to someone.
- Step 2: We'll work with you to schedule a blood test, whether that's at a lab or from one of our experienced, compassionate phlebotomists, whom we can send directly to you. We’ll then send that sample to the lab, where pre-treatment testing will be conducted.
- Step 3: Once you have the results of your test, we'll schedule a telemedicine appointment with you to discuss the next steps. If you decide to start treatment, we’ll ship your medication right to your home!
After finishing your medicine, we'll have you do one more test to ensure that your infection is gone. With the right medication and care, hepatitis C can be cured. The key is getting the help you need as soon as possible, which is why we're always here to help!
Ready to be free from hep C? As the top provider of online hep C treatment near you, we make receiving the care you need as easy as 1, 2, 3. Get started with HepCMyWay today.