Symptoms of Parkinson’s: Men vs. Women

Parkinson’s disease in men and women

More men than women are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) by almost a 2 to 1 margin. Several studies support this number, including a large study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Usually there is a physiological reason for a difference in disease between men and women. How does being female protect against PD? And do women and men experience PD symptoms differently?

Presenting symptoms

Women develop PD less often than men do. When they do develop PD, the age of onset is two years later than in men.

When women are first diagnosed, tremor is usually the dominant symptom. The initial symptom in men is usually slow or rigid movement (bradykinesia).

The tremor-dominant form of PD is associated with a slower disease progression and higher quality of life.

However, women often report less satisfaction with their quality of life, even with a similar level of symptoms.

Mental faculties and muscle movement

PD can affect mental faculties and the senses as well as muscle control.

There is some evidence that men and women are affected differently. For instance, men appear to retain a better ability to understand spatial orientation. Women, on the other hand, retain more verbal fluency.

These types of skills are influenced not only by sex, but also by the “side” of PD symptoms. Left side or right side motor symptom onset reflects which side of the brain has the largest dopamine deficiency.

For instance, you might have more difficulty with muscle control on the left side of your body if you have a dopamine deficiency on the right side of your brain.

Different skills, such as spatial abilities, are more dominant on a specific side of the brain.

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