Less women than men are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and several studies have supported this theory. Typically, there is a cognitive difference between men and women. But how does being a woman helps prevent Parkinson’s Disease and how is it different from men?
The toll in men goes higher than women when it comes to Parkinson’s. And the age of onset is also different; women tend to develop it approximately two years later than men.
When women are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, tremor is seen as the major symptom in them. On the other hand, in men rigid and slow movements are the initial and prime symptoms.
Parkinson’s Disease, which is more tremor-dominant, leads to slower progression of the disease and a better quality of life. However, women lead a more unsatisfied life than the men having the same problems.
Muscle Movement & Mental Abilities
Parkinson’s gradually affects the psychological functioning, senses and also the muscle movements.
There are some proven evidence that both genders are affected differently by the ailment. For example, men retain a better capacity to understand dimensional orientation. On the other hand, women retain a better verbal fluency.
These types of abilities are triggered by the gender respective hormones, and these hormones dominate the side effects of Parkinson’s symptoms. Differences in motor functions are significant in patients who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease for more than 4-5 years.
Women are more prone to develop depression and to report deterioration in daily life. Men have higher chances of sleep behavior disorder than women.
Expressing & Understanding Emotion
Parkinson’s causes rigidity in muscles, and over time the face muscles also start to freeze. This condition leads to mask-like expression, resulting difficulties in Parkinson’s patients to express emotion through facial expression.
Studies have proven that women with Parkinson’s face more difficulty defining anger and surprise, and men more often lose their capability to interpret fear.
However, reports have shown that women become more disappointed by their inability to express emotions than men.
Rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder is one kind of sleeping disorder that occurs during the sleep cycle. Generally, while sleeping, there is no muscle movement in the human body. Nonetheless, in REM the muscles are active and one can move their limbs and tend to act out their dreams.
REM is a rare condition, more likely to affect people with neurodegenerative diseases. Statistics show that about 15% of Parkinson’s patients suffer from REM behavior disorder (RBD).
According to Internal Review of Psychiatry, men are affected by RBD more than women.
Why are there differences in Parkinson’s symptoms in men and women?
It seems that it’s the estrogen that protects women from the progression of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms in many ways.
A research published by the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has shown that women who have a later occurrence of menopause or bore more children in life, are likely to have delayed Parkinson’s symptoms. These conditions are mainly triggered by the estrogen exposure over a lifetime.
We are yet to find out the exact reason, which would fully explain the effect of estrogen in these situations. Many studies have supported the fact that women have more availability of dopamine in the key areas of the brain. Estrogen might act as a neuro-protectant for dopamine action.
Women diagnosed with Parkinson’s encounter more problems during the treatment than men do. Also, women opt for surgery less often than men do, and their symptoms are also magnified by the time they choose to go for surgery. Moreover, the improvement through the surgery is more sluggish in women than men.
The medications for the treatment of Parkinson’s also affect women differently. Often women are exposed to higher doses of medication due to the lower body weight. This is a very severe problem with Levodopa, one of the most common medications for Parkinson’s Disease.
Heavier medicines might lead to increased chances of negative side effects, such as dyskinesia – a condition where you find difficulty performing voluntary movement.
Coping With Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s affects men and women completely differently, and the responses towards the symptoms are also different in both genders. It can be seen that women fall under depression more often than men do. As a result, they are prescribed with heavier dosage of antidepressant medicines.
Among men, it is very common to have more behavioral disorders like – anger, aggression, inappropriate wandering and abusive behavior. Accordingly, men have a bigger chance of receiving antipsychotic medicines. In general, men with Parkinson’s are more frequently examined than women. There are many studies, which show that there are certain disease-related characteristics, different in men than women.
It should also be noted that age plays a vital role in determining the symptoms of the disease. In general population, women live longer than men. There have been many studies, which have shown the possibility that the severity of Parkinson’s disease can simply be due to longer survival of women.
All the content written above is for informational purposes only. Please consult your medical professional before taking any steps regarding your condition.