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As a woman, what do I do if I think I have primary biliary cholangitis?

As a woman, if you think you have primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), formerly known as primary biliary cirrhosis, it's important to talk with your doctor about testing and treatment. Patient empowerment is key to maintaining health. It's important to ask your doctor questions and advocate for important evaluations, such as routine liver function tests, whether you're experiencing symptoms or not. It is important to be evaluated by a doctor with experience in liver diseases to make an accurate diagnosis of PBC in a timely fashion.

Advocacy is particularly important for females. Women are nine times more likely than men to develop PBC, meaning that women make up about 90 percent of PBC cases. The disease most often develops during middle age and is usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 35 and 60 years. There appears to be a genetic predisposition to developing PBC, because it's more common among siblings and in families where PBC or other autoimmune disease has affected one or more members.

The most common initial symptoms are fatigue and itching of the skin (pruritis). Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, darkening of the skin, dry mouth and eyes, and bone, muscle and joint pain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.