Hepatitis C in females: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Hepatitis C is a viral illness that, without treatment, can cause long-term damage to the liver. While this illness can affect both sexes, it may cause different symptoms and complications in females.

Women can potentially pass the infection to a baby during childbirth. As a result, hepatitis C infections are especially important to detect in the female population.

Women with hepatitis C may also face different issues than men. This article will describe some of these key differences, as well as treatment options for women.

Hepatitis C in women

We explore some of the issues that affect females with hepatitis C:


Woman lying on her bed with fatigue due to hepatitis C symptoms
Symptoms of hepatitis C can include fatigue and nausea.

Hepatitis C is a virus that people can acquire through contact with infected blood. A person can get the virus from sharing needles with a person who has hepatitis C.

In some cases, they get the virus during condomless sex if they come into contact with blood, including menstrual blood.

However, the incidence of transmission from sexual activity is lower than that of sharing needles, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

One of the main differences between transmission in males and females is that females can transmit the hepatitis C virus to a baby during childbirth.

According to ACOG, about 4 percent of women with hepatitis C pass it on during childbirth. The likelihood of this increases if the woman also has HIV or has high levels of the hepatitis C virus in the blood.

Prior to 1992, the United States’ blood supply was not regulated to detect hepatitis C. As a result, an estimated 250,000 women in the U.S. who received blood transfusions during cesarean deliveries may have the hepatitis C virus, according to the Hepatitis C Support Project.

Anyone who underwent a blood transfusion before 1992 should ask their doctor about hepatitis C testing.

Women cannot spread hepatitis C to a baby through breastfeeding or to another person through contact such as hugging.


When a person first gets the hepatitis C virus, they experience an acute infection. The acute infection can last from weeks to months and may cause symptoms that range in severity.

Some people “clear” the virus from their system and do not have further hepatitis C signs. Women are more likely to clear the hepatitis C virus, report the Hepatitis C Support Project.

While doctors are not sure why this is the case, it may be due to the higher levels of estrogen in females.


Severe hepatitis C side effects, such as cirrhosis or liver cancer, tend to progress more slowly in women compared with men, according to the Hepatitis C Support Project.

Disease progression may also depend on factors such as when a woman finds out that she has hepatitis C and whether she has co-infections such as HIV.

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Hepatitis C symptoms in women

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