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Do women experience poorer medical attention when it comes to pain?

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Do women experience poorer medical attention when it comes to pain?

What are your experiences? What are the solutions? What are the barriers? 

This week, Hysterical Women and THE FEMEDIC ran a joint webinar, asking the question "How close are we to closing the gender pain gap"?

Panellists included clinicians and researchers, with discussions around research gaps, empowerment and informed consent (to name just a few). It was a lively, energised event and an important topic. 

We'd love to hear from clinicians, researchers, patients and anyone else who is interested in women's health and health equality. Please comment below and join the conversation. 

1 reactions so far

This was a brilliant webinar, well worth watching. Clearly there is still a way to go but I think that identifying the gaps in clinical education and research will make a huge difference. For example, the lack of research into the pelvic nervous system in women.

I am also really interested in how all women can be empowered to speak up when things aren't clear within their medical appointments, to ask questions and to report incidences where they feel they have been dismissed to the detriment of their care or pain management. 

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Guest Yes absolutely.
Guest Yes absolutely.

Put up and shut up .. we can't find anything wrong...its in your head...  oooops..hear we are possibly 10... 12 operations later..or was that something I imagined 

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Apologies for the delay in my reply. I feel poorly qualified to answer, as a lot of the importance here should be placed on the actual experience of women within the medical system, rather than my views on their transcripts. Historically, I believe there to be an imbalance, with women's experiences of their health & treatment being ridiculed, shrugged off or neglected entirely (see origin of term 'hysteria'). I am not a historian, but I believe this likely to be a product of poorer scientific/medical knowledge of systems unique to female anatomy and the oppressed position of women in civilisation at the time. Science has progressed to the point where the former point is likely not valid (although our knowledge of pain is still highly unclear!) and the regenerative power of the feminist movement will hopefully have improved the latter. 

Regarding the current situation, I know very little, outside of hysteroscopy. It appears that the nearest cross-sex equivalent is diagnostic urology, and many comparisons are made here that appear to suggest the male diagnostic experience is favourable, especially regarding pain management. I am not qualified to comment here, although I will say that I have read the diagnostic procedures are not 100% comparable, and that we should not simply compare them side-by-side. 

Anecdotally, I know that one of the main societal issues with male healthcare is the lack of communication and openness within men to discuss their health issues, especially sexual or psychological. This is one aspect in which I am optimistic for the scope of change within female healthcare. While I am certain their are many enthusiastic male campaigners within excellent groups, such as PSL, I have yet to meet one myself (as in, I am yet to meet a male campaigner, not that they've lacked enthusiasm), and have met a long string of dedicated, charismatic, intelligent and thoughtful campaigners fighting the good fight. My view, which can be taken or left, is that the key will be to keep making sure your voices are heard, even when it feels like the change is too institutionalised to be altered (it isn't!).

Make sure you keep a keen cynical and empirical mindset. The sheer emotion and pain may be what inspired you to join, but it is logic and reason that will win you the arguments. Reach out to scientists or researchers like myself. We may not always be able to facilitate directly helping you at the drop of a hat (especially now that Brexit and Covid have stripped a lot of our already skimpy finances), but we are usually well connected to our fields and can help bridge gaps. And lastly, know that there are many superhuman clinicians within our NHS. I do not doubt there are bad eggs, like within every other field, but some of the most empathic, caring and selfless people I have met in my life have been within the NHS. Working together is always preferable to working in opposition. There may be individuals who you now (rightly) view as your enemies, but the world of medical professionals as a whole is not. 

Keep up the good fight, keep learning, wear a mask and stay healthy

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