Autoimmune Diseases in Millennial Women: Symptoms, Causes and Lifestyle Tips

Autoimmune Diseases in Millennial Women: Symptoms, Causes and Lifestyle Tips


Autoimmune diseases are chronic conditions where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. This can lead to inflammation, pain, joint damage, rashes, hair loss, and other debilitating symptoms. There are over 100 known autoimmune diseases, yet their root causes remain largely unknown.

What is well-established, however, is that autoimmune diseases disproportionately affect women. A staggering 80% of those living with an autoimmune condition are female. Recent medical research has begun shedding light on the potential reasons behind this gender disparity.


Why Are Women More Prone to Autoimmune Diseases?

The primary factors that increase autoimmune disease risk in women include:

  • Genetics: Women have two X chromosomes, which carry certain human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes. Mutations in these genes can heighten the predisposition for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Having two X chromosomes amplifies this risk.
  • Hormones: The monthly fluctuations in hormones like estrogen can influence the immune system. For younger women, these hormonal shifts may trigger an autoimmune response.  
  • Immune Cell Function: Emerging research suggests women’s immune cells exhibit more pro-inflammatory behavior compared to men’s. Additionally, testosterone in men appears to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Common Autoimmune Diseases in Women

The most prevalent autoimmune diseases seen in women include:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): A chronic condition causing joint pain, swelling, and inflammation, commonly onset between ages 30-60.

Psoriatic Arthritis: Occurring in those with the autoimmune skin condition psoriasis, this type causes joint symptoms similar to RA, usually between ages 30-50. 

Lupus: Causes the immune system to attack organs like the kidneys, lungs, and skin. Most often diagnosed between 15-45 years old.


Unique Considerations for Millennial Women

For women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, the high-stress juggling of career, family, and other responsibilities can be a catalyst for autoimmune conditions. The chronic pressure, lack of sleep, and poor self-care during this life stage create the perfect storm for immune system dysfunction.

Additionally, autoimmune diseases in younger women can manifest in subtle ways that may be dismissed, like hair loss, night sweats, low-grade fevers, and unexplained pain. Being attuned to these warning signs and advocating for proper diagnosis is crucial.

Millennial women must also consider how an autoimmune diagnosis may impact conception and pregnancy. While these conditions do not directly affect fertility, it’s vital to get the disease under control before attempting pregnancy and consult closely with medical providers.


Lifestyle as Preventative Medicine

Lifestyle as Preventative

While incurable, the debilitating effects of autoimmune diseases can be better managed through lifestyle interventions like:

Plant-Based Diet:

Eating more whole, plant-based foods has been shown to reduce autoimmune disease risk and alleviate symptoms for those diagnosed.


Contrary to misconception, physical activity does not damage joints but rather improves immune function and joint stability.  

Stress Management:

High stress exacerbates autoimmune flare-ups. Practicing meditation, breathwork, and other relaxation techniques is paramount.

Sufficient Sleep:

Lack of sleep is an established risk factor and can worsen symptoms, creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep and heightened pain/inflammation.

Adopting a holistic lifestyle focusing on these four pillars – diet, exercise, stress relief, and sleep – may help prevent autoimmune conditions from developing and allow those diagnosed to better manage their disease.


Your Journey with Rheumatologist OnCall

If you are a woman experiencing potential autoimmune symptoms or have already received a diagnosis, know that you have an ally in Dr. Diana Girnita and her innovative practice, Rheumatologist OnCall.

Recognizing the difficulties many patients face in accessing quality, affordable care, Dr. Girnita founded Rheumatologist OnCall to break down geographical barriers. The practice offers virtual and in-person services across multiple states, ensuring you can get the specialized treatment you need when you need it most.

Dr. Girnita takes an integrative approach that views you as a whole person – not just your disease. With extended appointment times and transparent pricing, you receive personalized care that addresses your unique lifestyle needs and treatment goals.

Don’t let an autoimmune condition define you or compromise your quality of life. Take the first step today by scheduling a consultation with Rheumatologist OnCall.


Autoimmune Disease FAQ

Q: Why do more women get autoimmune diseases than men?

A: Key factors include genetics (two X chromosomes), hormonal influences, and gender differences in immune cell functions.

Q: What are common autoimmune conditions in women?

A: Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis are some of the most prevalent.

Q: How can autoimmune diseases impact pregnancy?

A: They do not directly affect fertility, but getting the disease under control before conception is crucial. Close medical monitoring is required for a healthy pregnancy.

Q: What lifestyle changes can help prevent/manage autoimmune disease?

A: Adopting a plant-based diet, exercising regularly, practicing stress relief, and prioritizing sleep are vital.

Q: Where can I get specialized, accessible autoimmune disease care?

A: Dr. Girnita’s Rheumatologist OnCall offers affordable virtual and in-person services tailored to your needs.


All content shared on this site is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medicine. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment regarding your specific medical needs. We don’t represent that any of the products or services offered through this site are safe, appropriate, or effective for you. We advise you to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider regarding personal health or medical conditions. If you know or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a qualified healthcare professional immediately. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

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