How does hereditary angioedema (HAE) impact women?
HAE affects both men and women, but their experiences may be very different. For instance, women seem to be affected more severely by HAE than men. The severity and frequency of a woman’s HAE attacks can also change as she goes through the various life stages of puberty, pregnancies and menopause.
How female hormones play a role
Fluctuations in the female hormone estrogen can have an influence on HAE symptoms. Hormonal changes and fluctuations in sex hormones can trigger swelling attacks and affect the course of angioedema in women with HAE. However, every woman is different, so some women with HAE may be more or less sensitive to changes in their hormone levels than others.
HAE and many of the challenges it created in my life have helped me become the strong woman I am today.
If you have HAE, it’s a good idea to work closely with your treatment specialist as you approach each of the following life stages.
Puberty and HAE
When puberty begins, the body starts to produce more hormones, including estrogen. Because estrogen may affect HAE symptoms, females with HAE may experience their first HAE attack at this time, or they may begin to experience more frequent and more severe HAE attacks.
Family planning and HAE
If you have HAE, make sure you discuss any medication you take with your doctor. Birth control pills may contain estrogen, which may affect HAE symptoms, so they could cause more frequent or severe HAE attacks.
You should also know that HAE can be passed from parent to child. If one parent has HAE, there is a 50% chance it will be passed to the child.
Would you like to learn more about how genetics can play a role in HAE?
HAE during pregnancy
If you’re thinking about having children, you might be happy to know that women with HAE are not at an increased risk of infertility or miscarriage.
During pregnancy, women with HAE may or may not see their symptoms change.
Menopause and HAE
During menopause, women experience another change in hormone levels that may affect HAE symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy may also affect the frequency and severity of your HAE attacks.
*227 pregnancies in 107 women of a restrospective study including 150 postpubertal women.
†In a subset population (n=44) of a retrospective study of 150 postpubertal women.