Reasons for Loss of Appetite in Women

Various conditions can cause decreased appetite in women. Decreased appetite, in both women and men, occurs when you have a reduced desire to eat, despite your body's basic caloric needs. The University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC, notes that any illness can affect your previously hearty appetite and that once your illness is treated, your appetite should return. Certain conditions seen commonly in women may negatively affect appetite.

Woman turning away from food and family. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)


Pregnancy, especially the first trimester, can cause you to lose your appetite. According to, the first few months of pregnancy involve rapid changes for both you and your unborn child. Common physical signs or symptoms associated with pregnancy and your first trimester include breast tenderness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you may also experience emotions that range from excitement to anxiety. Although not all women experience nausea and vomiting, morning sickness is one of the most common health complaints among expecting mothers during the first trimester. In some women, nausea and vomiting may be triggered simply by the smell of cooking food. A combination of hormones, stress and other changes in your body may be responsible for decreased appetite.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa can cause decreased appetite in affected women. The Family Doctor website states that anorexia nervosa is an illness that usually manifests in teenage girls, although it may also develop in teenage boys, adult men and adult women. If you have anorexia nervosa, you are obsessed with food and being thin, are frightened of gaining weight and believe you are overweight even though you may be extremely thin. According to the Family Doctor website, anorexia nervosa is more than simply a problem with weight or food; it is an attempt to use weight and food to cope with emotional problems. Common signs and symptoms associated with anorexia nervosa include loss of appetite, deliberate self-starvation, skipping meals, denial of hunger, excessive exercising, cold intolerance, loss of scalp hair and absent or irregular menstrual periods.


Hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder that may cause a loss of appetite in women. Hyperthyroidism -- also known as overactive thyroid -- is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. The MedlinePlus website states that many diseases or factors may cause hyperthyroidism, including consuming too much iodine, Graves' disease, inflammation of your thyroid due to viral infections, noncancerous growths in your thyroid or pituitary gland or taking large amounts of thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism is more common in women than men. Possible signs and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism include decreased appetite, concentration difficulties, fatigue, frequent bowel movements, goiter, heat intolerance, increased sweating, irregular menstrual periods, nervousness, restlessness and weight loss.

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