Women tend to have higher average heart rates than men do. Pregnancy and menopause both lead to changes in heart function. After menopause, women and men tend to have similar overall heart health. Although many arrhythmias affect more men than women, these irregular heart rhythms may cause different symptoms in women.
The average heart rate for adult women is 78 to 82 beats per minute, though the “normal” range is between 60 to 100 beats per minute. Multiple factors such as hormones, exercise and lifestyle choices can affect your heart rate.
Typically, women or people assigned female at birth have a slightly higher heart rate than men or people assigned male at birth. The average adult man has a heart rate between 70 to 72 beats per minute.
Around puberty, men’s hearts tend to grow about 15% to 30% larger than women’s hearts. Generally, this increase in heart size matches an increase in body size.
Each time your heart beats, the contractions pump blood throughout your heart and body. Women’s hearts must beat faster to pump the same amount of blood because their hearts are usually slightly smaller than men’s.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
A heart rate consistently above 100 beats per minute when you’re not exercising may indicate a dangerous health condition. You should see your healthcare provider right away if your heartbeat is this fast, especially if you also have symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness.
Also, a heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute could be problematic, especially if you have symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness or significant fatigue. But it’s normal for athletes and more active people to have a lower heart rate in the 40s to 50s.
Before menopause, people assigned female at birth tend to have better heart function than people assigned male at birth who are the same age. After menopause, there’s not as much of a difference. Researchers think this could point to a connection between estrogen and heart health.
Before going through perimenopause and menopause, women tend to have better outcomes than men of the same age with diseases such as:
Women in postmenopause and men of the same age tend to have similar outcomes with these diseases.
Researchers haven’t found hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to be an effective treatment for improving heart function in postmenopausal individuals. It also doesn’t appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular emergencies. However, it may help control heart palpitations and other symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes or night sweats.
Your hormones fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle. Generally, your heart rate increases slightly during ovulation and the week afterward (luteal phase). It decreases slightly during your period and the week afterward (follicular phase).
Pregnant people have a higher average heart rate compared with people who aren’t pregnant. A pregnant person’s heart works harder to pump blood to their uterus. The amount of blood their heart pumps increases by 30% to 50%. The average heart rate during pregnancy rises to around 90 beats per minute. Pregnancy also makes your heart rate increase more than usual during exercise.
Minor heart arrhythmias are common during pregnancy. For example, about 1 in 2 pregnant people experience premature atrial contractions. These arrhythmias don’t cause complications and go away without treatment most of the time. More serious arrhythmias, such as diastolic heart murmurs, may require treatment.
Some irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and conditions affecting heart rate are more common in people assigned female at birth, including:
People assigned female at birth are less likely to experience some types of arrhythmias and conditions affecting their heart rate, including:
Atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat, affects people assigned male at birth more frequently than people assigned female at birth. But people assigned female at birth often experience different symptoms of atrial fibrillation, including:
They’re also more likely to have other conditions along with atrial fibrillation, such as:
You may have an appointment with an electrophysiologist to diagnose a heart rhythm disorder. Electrophysiologists are cardiologists who specialize in heart arrhythmias.
Your healthcare provider may use several tests or tools to diagnose a heart rhythm disorder, including an:
Generally, treatment for a heart rhythm disorder may include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you’re relaxing after work and suddenly feel your heart racing, you might worry something is wrong. Or maybe you’ve noticed that a male friend always seems to have a lower resting heart rate than you.
It’s normal for a woman or a person assigned female at birth to have a higher heart rate, and it seems hormones play a role. But if your heart rate is consistently above 100 beats per minute while you’re resting, you should call your healthcare provider. Also, tell your provider if your heart rate is often below 60 beats per minute, especially if you’re not extremely active in sports or exercise.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/28/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.