Before there was Vox, there was Think Progress:
When Kathy tried to seek medical attention for abnormally heavy periods that were leaving her feeling so faint that she was unable to stand, four different medical professionals said it was all in her head. They concluded she was simply struggling with anxiety and perhaps even had a serious mental health disorder. She says her primary care doctor repeatedly told her, “All your symptoms are your imagination.”
It took nine months for Kathy to be diagnosed with potentially life-threatening uterine fibroids that required surgical intervention. And that was only after she took it upon herself to demand an ultrasound. She was suffering from anemia, not anxiety.
“I was left to my own ability to recognize what was happening and defend myself,” Kathy, who didn’t want to print her last name along with details about her sensitive medical information, told ThinkProgress. “I was being treated as a mental incompetent and as a mentally ill hypochondriac.” She added that she doesn’t believe she would have received the same type of treatment if she were a man.
I am absolutely 100% positive that if Kathy was a man who was having heavy periods those doctors would have reacted differently.
There is a bunch more of that crap. Here is another taste:
The issue extends beyond the female reproductive system. There’s a particularly well-documented gender gap in the treatment of pain. Even though women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain — fibromyalgia, for instance, almost exclusively affects women — they’re less likely than their male counterparts to receive appropriate treatment for it. Multiple studies have found that medical interventions to manage pain, ranging from knee surgeries to opioid prescriptions, are less likely to be recommended for female patients. The widely-cited study “The Girl Who Cried Pain” found that medical professionals are more likely to tell women that their symptoms are psychosomatic, a term defined as “a physical disorder that is caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors.”
This means that, just as Kathy experienced, many female patients are told that it’s just in their head. According to a National Pain Report survey conducted last year, a staggering 90 percent of women with chronic pain feel that the health care system discriminates against them. “There seems to be an ‘Oh she’s so neurotic’ attitude towards female chronic pain patients,” one survey respondent said.
This approach toward female patients fits into a long history of attributing women’s behavior to mental health disorders. In fact, the modern-day stereotype that women are dramatic, irrational, and crazy has its roots in a gendered approach to health.
Dusenbery said that, as a young woman, she’s “never been more aware of patriarchal authority” than when she’s trying to interact with the health care sector.
Oh, noes! The Patriarchy!
I am not a woman or a doctor, but I have been treated by some women doctors over the years. I have been treated by some good doctors (meaning I liked them) and I have been treated by some bad doctors (meaning I didn’t like them.) It never occurred to me that my gender had anything to do with it.
If you go to a doctor and complain of pain but the doctor can’t find anything wrong, what are they supposed to do? They order tests, but the tests don’t show anything wrong either. Should they go ahead and order surgery so they can open you up and look around? Or should they just prescribe a bunch of addictive pain meds?
I’m not saying that some women haven’t had a problem with getting proper diagnosis and treatment, I’m saying that we shouldn’t assume it is because of their gender. Some doctors are jerks. Even female OB/Gyn’s can be unsympathetic to female patients.
But in Prog World, everything has got to be an ism, like racism or sexism.