Women and Autoimmune Disease, part 1 of 3

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc, “autoimmune diseases strike women three times more than men.” They further state that autoimmune diseases are the 4th highest reason for female disability, and are in the top ten for cause of death. 

Why are women more effected?  One reason is that women go through more hormonal fluctuations than men.  


For instance, in pregnancy our body switches to a different dominant branch of the immune system (to prevent the immune system from attacking the fetus), and then switches back again once the baby is born.  And our hormonal levels also drop dramatically after giving birth.

Again, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc, “the fact that women have enhanced immune systems compared to men increases women’s resistance to many types of infection, but also makes them more susceptible to ADs (autoimmune diseases.)”

Autoimmune diseases are numerous, and it seems like more are being discovered over time.  

What defines an autoimmune disease?  In short, it is a diseases in which the body is attacking it’s own tissue.  This occurs because the body has some confusion about which cells are self versus which cells are non-self.  This confusion often occurs as the immune system becomes hyper-vigilant because of a trigger or invader, and begins to mark some of our own cells as foreign.  

It may be hard to understand how the body can get confused in this way, but when you think about how cells are just a mix of proteins and fats, it’s easier to see how a ‘self’ cell could look like a non-self cell.

Today we’ll look at there ‘perfect storm’ that sets us up for autoimmune disease.

There are a few key factors that can lead to autoimmunity.  

1.   Genetic Predisposition

Some autoimmune diseases may have such a strong genetic component that they cannot be avoided.  However, genetics aren’t the only factor, as we’ll learn below.  However which type of autoimmunity you develop may depend on your genetic make-up.

2.  Epigenetics

The environment in which we ‘bathe’ our genes will effect their expression.  Ae you bathing them in nutrients and healthy circulation, or toxins and stagnation? 

Many autoimmune diseases being with a triggering event, such as a major virus, a divorce or a tumultuous menopause.  

3.  Leaky Gut

There is a high correlation between autoimmune diseases and a leaky gut.  As the mucosal barrier of the gut is compromised due to stress, food intolerances or allergies, or infection, peptides (molecules that make up proteins) enter the bloodstream.   These large peptides are not meant to cross the barrier, and the body will recognize them as foreign.  This can lead to an aggressive immune response against these foreign particles, which can parlay into an attack on similar ‘self’ cells.

I will get more specific on solutions for repairing the gut, detoxing, and more in the third article in this series.  And in the next article I will outline a few autoimmune diseases that can effect your cycle and fertility as a woman.  Stay tuned!




Prevention is possible!