When it comes to cases of chronic pain or emergency room visits, women have their medical concerns dismissed more often than men due to social stigmas and biases surrounding their gender for ages. For instance, a woman with chest pains is 50 percent as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness, and women and people of color who visit the emergency room with chest pain are in for a long wait to be seen by a doctor. Because of these problems, the topic of women’s representation in medical care needs to be further explored, and we’re here to address those topics in brief detail and explain how they impact women’s lives.
Why Are Women’s Health Concerns Dismissed so Often?
Many healthcare professionals doubt women’s pain. These pains can lead to more concerning conditions like heart problems, stroke, reproductive health concerns, chronic illness, adolescent pain, physical pain, and other conditions. Studies show that women are more sensitive to pain than men, but women are more likely to express their pain, leading to most healthcare professionals seeing this as an overreaction.
There are many reasons a woman’s pain might be dismissed. But what are those reasons? According to surveys reporting on these responses, these include:
- Credibility Gap: While diagnosing pain in women presents many challenges, many women report that their doctors don’t believe them when they say they‘re in pain. Women’s credibility has been distressingly low over the history of women’s healthcare, and it wasn’t until 2016 that gender was a factor counted in medical studies.
- Being Labeled as Hysterical: Men are considered stoic regarding pain. Conversely, women are discounted for their pain due to inherited gender stereotypes that often label women as “hysterical” or “delusional.” Under these circumstances, when a woman tells her doctor she’s in pain, it’s generally attributed to a psychological condition rather than a physical one, leading to years of untreated health problems and poor medical care.
- Being Labeled as Overweight: While obesity represents one of the largest chronic health conditions in the United States, physicians who respond to their patient’s concerns often default to weight loss to treat the problem at hand. However, when a woman has a problem that can’t be solved immediately, being told to lose weight become a default response, even if the problem isn’t related to her weight.
Many women report that they are either dismissed or outright ignored when they bring up concerns to their doctors. One of the responses to women’s pain is that many conditions are solvable without opiates or heavy-duty painkillers, hormone treatments, or other medications. But women’s healthcare still requires a lot of work to advance the equality women need when speaking to their healthcare providers, including improving the outcomes of necessary medical procedures by providing more options for anesthesia, removing the stigmas surrounding the reproductive system, and helping educate people about the correlations between mental health, chronic pain, and individual autonomy.
Women have to visit specialized doctors throughout their lives. Having a primary care physician that can care for them properly is essential. While most primary care physicians aren’t trained to address the needs of women, specialists who work within fetal medicine, gynecology, obstetricians, and other areas can help improve the rate at which medical education and training can be curated to address the unique health needs of women.
Many women often face feelings of helplessness when attempting to discuss their issues with their physicians about their pain. However, as women’s advocacy continues, researchers in the medical field are continuously working to address these social stigmas by providing better, more advanced options for addressing common problems such as chronic pain.
How Many Doctors are Trying to Change These Practices
There are doctors and OBGYNs out there that are trying to change the way doctors treat women. There’s a long way to go, but many countries have made strides to treat women as efficiently as men. At Capital Women’s Care Rockville, we strive to take your health concerns seriously. Call us to schedule an appointment to learn about our quality of care and women’s health services.