Bright Side
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Bright Side

Why Women Aren’t Diagnosed As Quickly As Men

Danish scientists conducted a huge study analyzing the hospital admissions of more than 6 million patients and it turns out that it takes women much longer than men to get qualified assistance. On average, the difference can be up to 4 years, while this period of time can be crucial in getting fully recovered. In this article, you’ll find out why there are still differences in “male” and “female” medicine, and what consequences this can lead to.

At Bright Side, we also conducted our own study by asking women about the worst recommendation they’ve ever gotten from a doctor. Based on the answers we received, we identified some criteria that should be a red flag, warning you that you should change your specialist immediately.

Criterion #1: All diseases come from being single.

This may sound like a paradox, but women usually encounter this stereotypic medical opinion when they visit a gynecologist. For example, about one in 10 women have endometriosis, but it can take them up to 8 years to be diagnosed with this or another autoimmune disease, and they have to visit 5 different doctors, on average, to finally get their diagnosis. Why does this happen? Often, when a woman experiences pelvic pain, it’s recommended to her that she needs to lead a regular sexual life. For some reason, doctors think that that’s the cure for all female diseases.

  • When I was brought to the hospital with the ruptured ovary, the first question the gynecologist asked was, “Are you married?” @Inga_Kudracheva
  • My doctor once recommended that I get married as a remedy against migraines. m6lin6

Criterion #2: Anything can be “cured” with childbirth.

If a woman finds a regular partner, but her health hasn’t improved, she could get a recommendation that holds the second place in terms of popularity, which is to become a mother. Knowledgeable specialists are aware that childbirth is a serious test, even for a healthy body. A woman can get post-natal depression, cardiovascular diseases, the condition of her teeth, hair, and nails can worsen significantly, etc. So, it’s obvious that childbirth can’t be a remedy. Besides, having children is a huge responsibility. They need care, love, and financial support, and they can’t replace proper diagnostics and treatment.

  • I went to a trichologist to find out why I was losing hair. She said, “You need to become a mother.” It eventually turned out that I lacked iron in my body. @InPearly
  • I was once told to “have a child” to get rid of my insomnia. @himmellegem_e
  • When I was 19, I had severe abdominal pains because of the ovarian cyst. The doctor told me that if I get pregnant, it will help me. nextxoxexit
  • There was a period in my life when doctors recommended childbirth for everything. Is it cystitis? “You need to become a mother.” Do you have spine problems? “Children will help you.” You can’t get rid of sinus infection? “When you deliver a child, it’ll pass.” But it didn’t help. Maybe I did it wrong? Hatial
  • My urologist told me that I should get pregnant to make my floating kidney go up. I decided not to ask whether I need to be pregnant forever to keep my kidney in the right position. Iezilop
  • My 12-year-old daughter was ill: fever, coughing, sore throat. We took her to the doctor and a woman came to the room, she was probably 45-50 years old. She examined my daughter’s throat, then looked at me, my daughter, we discussed our house, and then she asked, “Is this your only child? You need to have another one, then you won’t have time to be ill.” TekhiPondokhva

It seems that the purpose of the second child is to solve problems that appeared after the birth of the first one. But as we mentioned above, even the first pregnancy is a serious test to a woman’s body. While the second pregnancy only increases the risk of developing old and new diseases.

Specialists say that a woman should wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. Too little time between pregnancies increases the risk of premature birth, it can also lead to the reoccurrence of diseases that appeared during the first pregnancy. That’s why, before you plan your next pregnancy, you need to have a full physical.

If a woman is persistent and goes to see the same doctor, she is then lectured that all her problems are absolutely normal for a pregnant woman.

  • My gynecologist usually has 2 explanations for all kinds of complaints:

1. “You’ve never given birth, why are you surprised?”

2. “You’ve given birth, why are you surprised?” bbk17

  • 3 days after I gave birth to my daughter, I went to see a doctor because I had heartburn and labored breathing. I was told to come back in a week to get ultrasound my gall bladder. According to my doctor, “Gallstones usually come out after giving birth.” 2 days later, my mother took me to a hospital when my symptoms began to give me an unbearable headache, and I couldn’t breathe in a horizontal position. In the hospital, they told me that I would have died in 12 hours if I didn’t come to them, because I had congestive heart failure." tottalytubular

There are many diseases and conditions that women can suffer from, but medicine doesn’t know the reasons for all of them. That is why doctors often say, “You’re not the only one with this. You don’t need to worry.” For example, women suffer from migraines and chronic fatigue 4 times more often than men, they suffer from autoimmune diseases 3 times more often than men, and Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression 2 times more often than men.

The other important problem is that doctors don’t always know how medications can affect a woman’s body. For many years, clinical research was only conducted on men because it was more simple and cheaper. Men don’t have periods and their tests are always clear. That is why when women are prescribed a regular dose of medication, which is calculated in accordance with an average male body mass and male metabolism, it can lead to side effects and even an overdose.

Criterion #3: Don’t overthink your problems.

It is believed that women are more emotional and are more inclined to exaggerate their problems, while men try to endure even severe pain. Studies have showed that on average, women receive any analgesic treatment in an emergency department 16 minutes later than men. Women also have less of a chance to get a full workup when they go to the emergency room with symptoms of an acute cardiac ischemia. It happens because their symptoms can differ from those of men. For example, women might complain of discomfort in their stomach, nausea, and pain in their lower jaw. That is why they can be sent back home with the recommendation to relax.

  • I was complaining of sudden fainting, for example, on public transportation. They told me to walk more. @pankratievao
  • When I began to suspect that I had problems, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist. He told me, “How can it be that such a young lady has problems?” I never went to him again. @tiger_magician
  • My aunt died of pancreatitis at the age of 52. My mother died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 44. After my mother’s death I asked a doctor if there were any tests I could get to make sure I don’t have any genetic disorders. I was told, “We will all die of something.” PoweredBySun
  • I went to see an oncologist because I had an unusual birthmark. They told me that I should become a mother, in that case I wouldn’t have time to examine my body and worry. @its_cow_which

Public opinion

  • Women assume responsibility for not only themselves, but also their families more often, and they simply can’t follow the standard recommendation, “to get more rest and to worry less.” The authors of this study say that women with cardiac diseases often don’t get support or understanding from their families. What’s more shocking is that they often feel guilty for their disease which doesn’t allow them to take care of their loved ones like they want to.

  • In accordance with other studies, bystanders are more willing to conduct CPR on men than on women. The problem is that people are afraid to help an unfamiliar woman because they will have to unbutton her clothes and touch her chest to start her heart rhythm. According to statistics, only 39% of women get help in a public place during cardiac arrest.

  • Another study showed that women suffering from dementia can’t get proper care in comparison with men. They visit doctors less often, they take the wrong dosage of medications, and their families don’t really take care of them. Meanwhile, 2/3 of people above 80 are women, and they are more prone to dementia.

  • Other studies have shown that even the early symptoms of a disease in a woman increase the risk of divorce significantly. Those with uterine cancer have even slimmer chances of keeping their family together.

What can women do about this? They should stop hiding and belittling their problems trying not to seem like a whiner or seem paranoid. They should be more attentive to themselves and those around them.

Have you and your friends ever encountered similar problems?

Preview photo credit @Inga_Kudracheva / twitter
Illustrated by Xenia Shalagina for Bright Side
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