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August 1, 2023

Understanding the Gender Disparity in Autoimmune Diseases: Exploring the Connection

Ozark Holistic Center

STUDY LINK: Autoimmune Disease in Women: Endocrine Transition and Risk Across the Lifespan

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Autoimmune diseases are a complex group of disorders in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body. While these diseases can affect both men and women, there is a striking difference in their prevalence and incidence between the two genders. In this blog post, we will delve into the research findings that support the notion that women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases compared to men, shedding light on the role of hormonal shifts and offering valuable insights into the potential diagnostic approaches.

The Gender Gap in Autoimmune Diseases:

According to Dr. Orie Quinn, DC, women have a higher incidence and prevalence of autoimmune diseases than men. In fact, it has been reported that approximately 85% or more of patients with multiple autoimmune diseases are female. These statistics highlight a significant disparity that cannot be overlooked. To understand the underlying reasons for this gender gap, researchers have explored various factors, including hormonal influences.

Hormonal Influences:

Dr. Quinn’s observations align with research studies that suggest a connection between hormonal shifts and the development of autoimmune diseases. The fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause have been linked to increased susceptibility in women. The immune system is sensitive to these hormone variations, and alterations in the balance may trigger or exacerbate autoimmune responses.

Post-Pregnancy Autoimmune Symptoms:

One specific scenario where this connection becomes evident is the occurrence of autoimmune symptoms in women after pregnancy. Dr. Quinn emphasizes that many women present with these symptoms, which can be a distressing experience. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is believed that the postpartum period involves hormonal and immunological changes that can potentially contribute to the development or exacerbation of autoimmune diseases.

Exploring Diagnostic Approaches:

Given the higher prevalence of autoimmune diseases in women, it becomes crucial to adopt effective diagnostic approaches that take into account the unique challenges faced by female patients. Dr. Quinn suggests several initial steps to consider when evaluating autoimmune symptoms in women. These include checking hormone levels, vitamin D levels, and markers of iron and ferritin.

Hormone levels: Monitoring hormone levels can provide valuable insights into potential imbalances that may contribute to autoimmune disease development or exacerbation. Understanding the fluctuations and maintaining hormonal balance may aid in managing symptoms and promoting overall health.

Vitamin D levels: Studies have shown a correlation between low vitamin D levels and autoimmune diseases. Ensuring optimal vitamin D levels through supplementation or sunlight exposure may offer protective benefits and help reduce the risk of autoimmune disorders.

Iron and Ferritin levels: Iron deficiency has been associated with increased autoimmune disease activity. Regular evaluation of iron and ferritin levels can help identify deficiencies and enable appropriate interventions such as iron supplementation, if necessary.


The gender disparity in autoimmune diseases is a complex issue that warrants further exploration. Driven by hormonal influences, women are more susceptible to these disorders, and the occurrence of post-pregnancy autoimmune symptoms highlights this connection. By focusing on diagnostic approaches that consider hormone levels, vitamin D status, and iron/ferritin levels, healthcare professionals can provide more comprehensive care and support to women experiencing autoimmune symptoms. It is essential to continue researching and raising awareness about this gender gap to ultimately improve the management and quality of life for all individuals affected by autoimmune diseases.

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