Why Are Women More Likely to be Ignored by their GP?
We, unfortunately, live in a world where women’s ill-health sometimes isn’t taken seriously. Despite women knowing how they feel in their own bodies, GPs (general practitioners) continue to ignore their concerns, but why is this?
For some, a diagnosis may be too late, and any delayed diagnosis solicitor will tell you that women often struggle with this issue. In fact, there is a proven track record that GPs are shunning women’s concerns over their health despite them countlessly going back and forth to them with their worries.
As a result, they are often ignored more so than their male counterparts. Whilst many women suffer in silence due to being fobbed off by their GP, it seems that men’s health is taken more seriously.
So why are women being silenced over their health and not being prioritised like men are? Let’s take a closer look…
What Are The Most Common Illnesses That Are Overlooked Or Misdiagnosed When Relating To Women’s Health?
There are many illnesses that have been reported as overlooked or misdiagnosed when a woman goes to her GP with worries about her wellbeing. These commonly include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Those women who visit A&E with abdominal pains are often advised that their pain relates to a gynaecological problem, without considering that it could be caused by something else. In comparison, if a male goes to A&E with the same condition, it is flagged as a concern for their health due to not being able to have gynaecological problems.
It suggests that women are believed not to be able to have any other abdominal pains other than those felt during menstruation.
Do Men and Women Feel Pain Differently?
Medical research conducted in America suggests that men and women do, in fact, feel pain on different levels. Even discovering that “women averaged 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter of facial skin while men only averaged 17 nerve fibers.” The more nerve fibres per square mean the more sensitive outside stimuli.
Pain research verifies that women’s discomfort should not be dismissed. They should be entitled to medicine and treatment for the same pain as men experience. This is especially the case when women can sometimes feel the pain on a more severe level.
Despite the studies providing convincing medical data that men and women feel pain differently, could it still be said that anyone might feel pain differently due to age, weight, and height, not necessarily just down to gender? Whether you are a man or woman, boy or girl, you should not be dismissed with your wellbeing concerns.
Why is Women’s Health Taken Less Seriously Than Men’s Health?
Despite the Equality Act 2010 becoming part of the law, there is still a gender equality gap when it comes to ill-health. Women are being told that they are overreacting or too concerned with their health, sometimes even being called a hypochondriac. It implies that their symptoms were because they had anxiety or depression, despite many not having either.
Men tend to receive a diagnosis quicker than women. On average, for a female, there is usually ten months between their initial doctor’s appointment to one which confirms their medical diagnosis; far longer than the average time for men.
Some of these misdiagnoses done by doctors, unfortunately, make it too late in some cases. In the US alone, an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 people die each year due to misdiagnosis; the question that arises is, how many of these people were female?
There doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation for why men’s health is taken more seriously than women’s health. It suggests that:
- There is still a stigma around equality;
- Women’s health isn’t seen as necessary as men’s;
- Or that, because women have periods, the reproductive system is the only thing to blame for their ill-health.
The issue could also be related to the previous idea of female hysteria bandied around in the medical field. Ultimately, the idea that GPs presume it can’t be any other medical diagnosis is backwards and shows the gender equality gap.
Are Women Only Being Ignored by Men About Their Health?
You would presume that other women would be more sensitive towards women’s health concerns. However, it is not only male GPs who ignore women; women are being discounted by other females too.
One study conducted with both male and female participates expresses that “the gender of the perceivers did not influence pain estimation. Both men and women interpreted women’s pain to be less intense.”
But why are females not taking women’s pain seriously despite having the same bodily functions as they do?
Are GPs The Only Ones Ignoring Women’s Health Concerns?
It isn’t just GPs that have been found to overlook women’s ill-health. Many studies have shown that other health-related people, such as emergency call operators, nurses and A&E staff, also tend to take women less seriously than men regarding their pain. They even deny them the treatment or medication they need.
It has also been seen that even those who do not have any medical background still consider that men’s pain to be worse than a woman’s pain when comparing the two genders with the same level of discomfort. This can be shown with the made-up phrase ‘man flu’; it hasn’t been proven to be a confirmed medical diagnosis, yet we still use the term when men have symptoms of a cold or the flu.
Don’t Allow Your GP to Ignore and Gaslight Your Health
It is easy to presume that your doctor will always know best. But you are the only one who knows your body and pain. So, when something is not right, you have the right to access medical help.
You are entitled to be concerned and chase those worries with your doctor. Don’t allow your GP to ignore or gaslight your fears.