More than 35 million adult women live in Germany. Their life situations are very different. Age, education, occupation, income, type of family, cultural background and many other aspects are factors that have an impact on how healthy they are.
And just as the social situations are very diverse, how healthy women are in Germany also varies. Below is an overview of how healthy women are in Germany.
December 2020, the new women’s health report of the Federal Health Reporting (GBE) at the Robert Koch Institute “Health Situation of Women in Germany” was published. In nine thematic chapters on 400 pages, the report provides comprehensive information on the state of health, health behavior and health care of women in Germany. The report also deals in detail with tobacco and alcohol consumption by women (in contrast to men) (pp. 106-120).
The most important results for each of the major topic chapters are given below:
- Overview of women’s health in Germany
- How healthy are girls in Germany?
- Women’s health between gainful employment and family work
- How healthy are elderly Women in Germany?
- How healthy are women with a migrant background in Germany?
- Sexual and reproductive health of women in Germany
- Health effects of violence against women in Germany
- How healthy are women with disabilities in Germany?
- Women’s health in a European comparison
Overview of women’s health in Germany
- The life expectancy of women has been increasing for many decades, by 4.3 years since 1991 to 83.3 years.
- After German reunification, the increase in life expectancy was greater in the new federal states than in the old; there the life expectancy of women is now slightly higher than that of women in the old countries.
- The most common causes of death in women are ischemic heart disease, dementia, and cerebrovascular diseases.
How healthy are girls in Germany?
- In childhood, girls are healthier and less medically conspicuous than boys; in adolescence the relationship is reversed.
- In adolescence, girls are more often affected by pain and psychological problems than boys.
- The subjectively assessed health is worse for girls in adolescence than for boys.
- Girls now have their first menstrual period much earlier than their mothers. In contrast, the age of the first sexual intercourse shifted backwards.
- Girls (and boys) use contraception more conscientiously today than it was ten years ago. When it comes to education, the importance of the Internet is growing.
Women’s health between gainful employment and family work
- Many women of working age are faced with the task of reconciling work, raising children and / or caring for relatives.
- Inactive women often rate their general health as worse than employed women; this also applies to mothers with underage children.
- Conflicts regarding the compatibility of family and work are associated with poorer health for mothers with underage children.
- Young mothers, single mothers, unemployed women and women who care for relatives are exposed to particular health problems.
- A sustainable family, social and work policy can help to create a balance between gainful employment and family work and thus promote the health of women in middle adulthood.
How healthy are elderly Women in Germany?
- Almost half of women aged 65 and over rate their health as good or very good. Over time, there is a trend towards better subjective health.
- In old age there are significantly more women than men living alone, but they are not more common
- lonely as men.
- The most common mental illnesses in old age are dementia and depression; however, they usually only affect women aged 85 and over.
- From the age of 75, the fear of falling is more common in older women than the experience of falling.
- Around half of older women aged 65 and over have a living will or power of attorney, and more than every third person has a care will.
How healthy are women with a migrant background in Germany?
- Women with a migration background are a heterogeneous group; the data on health are inadequate.
- Sociodemographic and migration-specific factors influence the health and health behavior of women with a migration background.
- Compared to women without a migrant background, women with a migration background are less affected by certain chronic physical illnesses, but more often suffer from depressive symptoms.
- Women with a migrant background are less likely to consume alcohol in risky amounts; However, they are also less active in sport.
- Differences in the use of health care services and the quality of treatment are due in particular to language barriers.
Sexual and reproductive health of women in Germany
- Sexuality usually takes place in steady relationships; In young and middle age, several (monogamous) relationships often follow one another.
- Sexually active adult women most often use the pill and condom for contraception; the use of the pill has decreased significantly in recent years, especially among young women.
- Reproductive behavior in Germany is characterized by a low birth rate, the postponement of the first birth to an older age and widespread childlessness; the average number of children per woman is 1.57.
- The number of abortions in Germany has been falling since 2001; There were 100,893 terminations in 2019.
- In 2018, 775,916 women gave birth to children. 30.5 percent of the births in 2017 were caesarean sections, around 17,500 births occurred after artificial insemination.
Health effects of violence against women in Germany
- 35 percent of women have experienced physical and / or sexual violence since the age of 15; this came mainly from partners or ex-partners.
- The prevalence of violence against women in Germany is within the European average; it does not seem to have changed much in the past ten years.
- Violence among women is independent of social status; Particularly at risk are women who have been separated, women who have previously experienced violence and women who experience increased levels of social discrimination.
- Violence can have serious consequences for the physical and mental health and psychosocial situation of women.
- For various reasons, many women affected do not get through to the existing help system; Medical staff have an important role to play in uncovering victims of violence and providing assistance.
How healthy are women with disabilities in Germany?
- Five million women and girls (around twelve percent of the female population) have an officially recognized disability, while 3.8 million have a severe disability.
- The proportion of women with disabilities increases with age; almost 60 percent of women with recognized severe disabilities are 65 years of age or older.
- Around 19 percent of women with impairments perceive their health as good or very good, in contrast to around 75 percent of women without impairments.
- Women with disabilities have a higher use of outpatient and inpatient care than women without disabilities.
- Over the course of their lives, women with disabilities are significantly more likely to be affected by violence than women without disabilities.
Women’s health in a European comparison
- The mean life expectancy of women in Germany, at 83.3 years, is close to the average of the 28 EU member states (83.6 years).
- The mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases among women has decreased in all 28 EU member states in the last 15 years; Germany is slightly above the EU average with 323 deaths per 100,000 female inhabitants.
- Almost 44 percent of women in the 28 EU member states are overweight (including obesity), in Germany the proportion is around 43 percent.
- In terms of the proportion of women who drink binge monthly, Germany ranks second among the 28 EU member states with 19 percent.
- The proportion of women who are physically active in a health-promoting manner is 22 percent in Germany, more than twice as high as the average of the 28 EU member states.
The report “The health situation of women in Germany” is available for download on the Robert Koch Institute website.