Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms in Young Women

Though it's still uncommon in younger women, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more than three times more common in women than in men. If you suspect you may have RA, learn the signs and get medical attention as soon as possible.

Older women are significantly more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory illness that mostly affects the joints. But it's also possible for younger ladies. The majority of persons with arthritis, which affects 5% of the population between the ages of 18 and 44, are women.

Younger women with RA could experience different symptoms, coexisting illnesses, and other issues. There are choices for effective treatment. For young women with RA, identifying symptoms and starting treatment early can help improve outcomes.

Continue reading to learn more about the signs and symptoms of RA in younger women, how RA affects them, and what you can do if you are a young woman living with RA.

Language matters

As you can see, this article uses the binary terms "woman" and "man." These are the phrases used by the researchers whose data was quoted, even though we understand that they might not correspond with your gender experience. We make every effort to provide as much detail as we can when discussing clinical outcomes and study subjects.

Regretfully, data regarding transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless individuals may not have been collected for the studies and surveys cited in this article.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in younger women?

Seventy-five percent of RA patients are women, and younger patients may present with more severe symptoms earlier than older patients. These signs could consist of:
  • stiffness in the joints that restricts movement and makes it difficult to do some things; usually happens in the morning, after a nap, or after a period of inactivity
  • swollen and painful joints on both sides of the body
  • bone erosion, or loss of bone as a result of inflammation in the hands and feet's smaller joints
  • rheumatoid nodules
  • unintentional weight loss
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
Younger RA patients appear to be more likely to receive intensive treatment, according to research. They are probably going to start this treatment sooner, have better results, and get prescriptions for medications that affect the course of their disease, like:
  • methotrexate
  • hydroxychloroquine
  • leflunomide
  • sulfasalazine
Your joints are intended to be protected by these therapies.

How might rheumatoid arthritis impact a younger woman's ability to conceive?

In general, RA doesn't prevent you from getting pregnant, but if you can, you should try to plan for pregnancy. Use birth control until you decide to become pregnant if you have RA.

Certain drugs may have an impact on your developing child. For instance, the drug methotrexate, which is frequently used to treat RA, can harm the head, face, arms, legs, and bones of a developing child.

Your rheumatologist can assist you with medication and treatment management as well as help you get ready for pregnancy.

When does rheumatoid arthritis usually start for younger women?

Although RA is frequently associated with ageing, the Arthritis Foundation reports that the disease typically first manifests between the ages of 30 and 60. Even children can develop RA. JUVENILIAL RA is the term used to describe RA in individuals under the age of 18.

It may be because of hormonal changes that happen in the mid-30s and again after the mid-40s that women are diagnosed marginally earlier than males.

What are the other symptoms of RA?

Prolonged inflammation in other parts of your body, including your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and eyes, can occur in severe cases of RA.

Chronic inflammation could result in:
  • severe dry eyes and mouth (Sj√∂gren disease)
  • pleurisy, or rheumatic inflammation of the lung lining
  • inflammation of the heart's outer layer, or pericarditis
  • decrease in the quantity of healthy red blood cells, or anaemia
  • an extremely unusual but dangerous inflammation of blood vessels that can cut off tissues' blood supply and cause tissue death (vasculitis)

What role do hormones play in RA?

Women are more likely than males to have RA, and when they do, their symptoms may be more severe and manifest at a younger age.

Progesterone and oestrogen, two reproductive hormones, may offer some protection against RA symptoms.

Throughout your life, your body's hormone levels fluctuate. These levels can be impacted by the following factors:
  • pregnancy
  • the postpartum period
  • breastfeeding
  • menopause
  • hormonal medications
  • diseases including polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis
  • hormonal birth control techniques, such as IUDs and pills
  • hormones taken after menopause
Another potential trigger is the hormones used in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments.

A 2008 study found that fewer middle-aged women with RA experienced joint pain during and after their menstrual cycles' ovulation. During these times, progesterone and oestrogen levels are higher.

Studies indicate that the increased frequency of RA in women may be explained by the interaction of genetic, environmental, and sex hormones.

Scholars are still looking for new solutions.

What is the prognosis for RA in younger women?

There is no known cure for RA, which is a chronic illness. However, medicine can induce remission in certain individuals.

Younger folks might fare better than older ones because they might undergo more extensive treatment. Joint damage may be postponed or avoided with the help of an efficient treatment plan.

It is challenging to forecast the precise prognosis because RA may increase your risk of developing other illnesses, such as:
  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • disability that could impact one's capacity to work and quality of life


Women are not often affected by RA, and hormonal, genetic, and environmental variables appear to be associated with a higher frequency of the disease. However, knowledge of the illness among medical professionals is still developing.

Research is also being done on other characteristics connected to sex, like the degree of pain and the delay in diagnosis in women.

Consult your physician if you're feeling any signs of RA, particularly if you're a woman.

They might suggest that you see a rheumatologist, a medical professional who specialises in autoimmune illnesses as well as conditions affecting the joints and connective tissues.

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