Symptoms and Progression of HCV in Women
Whilst HCV is more common in men than women, it is not thought that women are more immune to the virus, simply that they are less exposed to the risk factors for contracting hepatitis C.
Studies show that the progression of HCV in women is slower than in men. Long term liver damage due to the hepatitis C virus is also less severe in women than men. Our Functional Medicine program is a natural approach to treating chronic hepatitis C in men and women.
Clearing the Virus Naturally
Not everyone who contracts the HCV virus goes on to develop chronic hepatitis C. Between 15 and 20% of people who contract the virus are able to clear it from their systems naturally; many never even know that they contracted the virus in the first place, attributing it to another virus, such as a cold or flu.
The rate of women able to clear the virus naturally appears to be much higher than the number of men, with one study showing that around 45% of women known to be infected with the virus through transfusions were clear of the virus 20 years later. The reasons for this are unclear.
Chronic Hepatitis C in Women
In all cases of chronic hepatitis C (where the virus is still present 6 months after infection), the progression of the disease is very slow, taking 10-40 years to cause severe liver damage. However, in women who have chronic hepatitis C, the development of scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer or liver failure is much slower than in men.
Some physicians attribute the slower progression of hepatitis C in women to the hormone estrogen, which is believed to protect women from liver damage.
Many people with HCV don’t experience any symptoms. In cases where symptoms are present, symptoms may include:
• Loss of appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Muscle or joint pain
Whilst the symptoms in men and women are similar women may experience the symptoms later than men, or experience milder forms of the symptoms.
There are a number of autoimmune conditions, where the body attacks its own tissue, mistaking it for a threat, associated with hepatitis C. These include cryoglobulinemia, glomerulonephritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Generally women are more susceptible to autoimmune conditions and women with HCV have a higher risk of developing HCV-related autoimmune diseases than men.
If you or a loved one has hepatitis C, you can get treatment at any stage, before symptoms of liver damage develop, or once the disease has progressed. The earlier you seek treatment, the more effective the results. If you would like to know more about how Functional Medicine, an alternative treatment for hepatitis C infection, can clear your body of the hepatitis C virus naturally, contact us today.