Women’s Pain

Undiagnosed! Understated! Dismissed!

Why Is Women’s Pain So Often Dismissed?

Health care providers can be quick to conclude that women’s pain isn’t so bad or is “all in their head”—an attitude that can lead to prolonged suffering and can put women’s health at serious risk.


Michelle was 11 years old when the pain began. That’s when she first got her period, with cramps so excruciating they made her vomit. “We went to see my family doctor at the time and she dismissed it, saying, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. Everybody gets cramps. Just take Advil.’” But the pain got worse when Luciani was a teen. The same doctor put her on birth control, which dulled the intensity slightly. Nevertheless, she came to expect that once a month, she’d feel a twisting in her pelvis and experience stabbing cramps that jolted through her like electrical shocks. Her doctor continued to tell her that cramps were normal.

After high school, Michelle moved from Toronto to Vancouver to study media arts. One day, she experienced a new kind of pain in her abdomen. “It went from a five to a 20 very fast,” she recalls. She hurried to the hospital, where staff found fluid in her abdomen, caused by a ruptured ovarian cyst. Once again, Michelle was told, “There’s nothing to worry about—it’s normal.” The physician gave her morphine and sent her home. But throughout the course of the year, more cysts ruptured, and each time, Michelle faced the same message in the emergency room: “You just have to get through it.”

When she was 25, Michelle found a gynecologist who told her the symptoms sounded like endometriosis, which occurs when the uterine lining grows in other areas of the pelvis, where it doesn’t belong. He booked her in for exploratory surgery to look for signs of the painful chronic condition, but in the end, he didn’t find anything wrong.

Michelle was filled with hopelessness. She’d been sure she had endometriosis, but a doctor was telling her that wasn’t true. In too much agony to work, she moved back to Toronto, where her family lived. She searched for a new doctor who could help her, but after reading the report from her surgery, each health practitioner said the same thing: since the procedure hadn’t led to a diagnosis, nothing was wrong with her. She was told the pain was in her head and was offered antidepressants but never a solution for the pain. “I just felt crazy at that point,” she recalls.

Finally, at age 26, after having consulted with five doctors since her initial surgery, Michelle found one in Atlanta, Georgia who was willing to repeat the procedure. She paid nearly CAD $40,000, and this time, the results were conclusive: she had endometriosis. Three years later, she would also be diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that affects women’s hormone levels and can result in cysts in the ovaries.

She’s Not The Only

Michelle isn’t the only woman to spend years having her pain dismissed, or to be forced to advocate for herself with doctor after doctor simply to secure a diagnosis. A 2006 study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology interviewed women with chronic pelvic pain and concluded that “most felt that their pain and suffering had not been legitimized by at least one doctor that they had seen.”

Over the past few decades, researchers have found that women’s pain is often taken less seriously than men’s and, as a result, it frequently goes untreated or undertreated in Western medicine. There is no lab test to evalu­ate pain, so it’s up to a patient to describe their experience—and up to their doctor to believe them. But, as Luciani learned, health care providers can be quick to conclude that a woman’s pain isn’t so bad or is “all in her head”—an attitude that can lead to prolonged suffering and can put women’s health at serious risk.

Based from : https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/conditions/womens-pain-undiagnosed/

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Personally, I’ve has to deal with this. Like Michelle, I started having menstrual cramps as soon as I started my period. It was long& heavy. GP put me on birth control pills at the time. My cycle regulated, was a little less heavy, but cramps got really bad some days, I’d be curled up in a ballin the nurse’s office at school or if they kicked in at college, curled up in the women’s lounge couch. Eventually my cramps became almost constant. Referred to Gyn who referred me to GI Diagnosis, IBS. IBS controlled, referred back to Gyn. He told me “I don’t think it is Endometriosis, but if you insist, I will do the surgery.” I insisted & guess who was right! Because she didn’t think she’d need all the tools, she was missing some from the first surgery. That resulted in a full laparotomy 6 months later with a full inverse T incision and 12 weeks unable to work, recovering. 12 years from onset to initial diagnosis.

I dont even want to get into my fibro diagnosis . We believe that diagnosis took 13 years. With another 15 to get it ‘controlled

Based on an article in reader’s digest. The original can be found Here

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