A sex-specific illness is an illness that occurs only in people of one sex. There are other sex-related illnesses that are more common to one sex, or which manifest differently in each sex.
Neither concept should be confused with sexually transmitted disease, which is a completely different concept.
Sex-related illnesses have various causes:
- sex-linked genetic illnesses
- parts of the reproductive system that are specific to one sex
- social causes that relate to the gender role expected of that sex in a particular society.
- different levels of reporting or diagnosis in each gender.
- prostate cancer and other diseases of the male reproductive system only occur in men
- certain genetic diseases, such as colour blindness, occur more frequently in men. They are caused by sex-linked, recessive genes carried on the non-homologous portion of the X chromosome.
- Men are more likely to succeed in committing suicide, and women are more likely to attempt it.
- 99% of breast cancer occurs in women
- Anorexia nervosa affects females primarily
- ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and other diseases of the female reproductive system only occur in women
- More women than men suffer from Sjögren's syndrome, scleroderma, and osteoporosis
- in Western cultures, more women than men suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia
- Women are more likely to suffer from unipolar clinical depression (although bipolar disorder appears to affect both sexes equally)
- Psychologists are more likely to diagnose women than men with borderline or histrionic personality disorder. There is no current agreement on whether this is because of a real underlying difference between the sexes, or simply because of deeply ingrained social attitudes.