There is an unfortunate truth that any woman has to confront at some point in her life: women’s pain is not taken as seriously as men’s pain. There are endless studies and personal stories that confirm this as a reality time and again.
This is bad enough in terms of general health concerns, but what about women’s health? This is a section of health that half the population has no direct experience with. Even for the pain that everyone does deal with, there’s a massive tendency for women’s pain to be underestimated – so you can imagine how bad it is for female-specific pain. Plenty of men don’t understand how painful period pain can be, for example, which in turn means there is less research and understanding of how to treat it.
It’s a sorry state of affairs. While we wait for society to catch up, it makes sense that women have to bolster their own knowledge to ensure they know what might be happening with their own bodies. Furnished with further information, you can be more confident about discussing medical concerns with a doctor and – most importantly – have a firm idea what is and isn’t “normal”.
It’s Not Normal… To Feel Sad All The Time
There is still a tendency for women who experience emotional problems to be dismissed as just being “sensitive”. If you have a problem with chronic sadness, coupled with a loss of appetite and a desire to withdraw from society, it’s unlikely that you’re being “sensitive”: you might have chronic depression.
Depression, when diagnosed, can be managed with both medication and therapeutic options.
If Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen: Explain that you have had these feelings persistently over a course of time. Don’t take no for an answer. There are various diagnostic tools which you can insist are used, so the situation can be judged on the facts rather than just the impression of the doctor.
It’s Not Normal… To Be In Intense Pain During Your Period
Some cramps during your period are going to happen; it’s an inevitable part of the biological process. But if the cramps become severe enough to cause you to miss work or need to take a lot of painkillers, then that’s not something you have to put up with.
There are numerous health conditions which can cause excessive pain during your period, from endometriosis to polycystic ovary syndrome. When identified, there are good treatments options for these conditions, so don’t be shy about pushing for a diagnosis.
If Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen: There’s no doubt that this is one of the trickiest conditions to get the appropriate treatment for. Switching to a female doctor can help, or just soliciting a second opinion. Or a third opinion. Or a fourth opinion. Basically, if the pain is severe, keep pushing until someone takes you seriously.
It’s Not Normal… To Experience Discomfort When Urinating
The majority of women will suffer from a urinary tract infection (often called an UTI) at some point in their lives. Part of this is just a bit of biological bad luck; women’s urethras are far shorter than men’s, which results in a higher infection rate.
The occasional UTI can be dealt with relatively simply, but it’s important not to ignore them. If left untreated, UTIs can become kidney infections. Usually self-care or a course of antibiotics will fix the problem in the moment. However, if you experience persistent pain when urinating, then something else could be going on. You might be suffering from a sexually transmitted infection (an STI) or even have a condition called interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis is a painful condition that has all the symptoms of a UTI but no infection is present; you can discover more about it here http://www.medicinenet.com/interstitial_cystitis/article.htm to see if it has any relevance to you.
If Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen: If your doctor is dismissive of pain when urinating – perhaps insisting it’s “just another UTI” and ignoring any other possible causes – then you have every reason to push for a better response. You could seek help from those such as www.saferstdtesting.com/free-std-testing to clear any concerns of STIs, or even seek the opinion of a urologist directly to discuss interstitial cystitis.
It’s Not Normal… To Have Endless Heartburn
Did you know that women experience heart attacks very differently to men? The depiction of a heart attack in TV and movies is always the same; a pained expression, a grabbing of the left arm, and the imminent fall to the floor. In reality, a heart attack can be much milder – and even confused with heartburn.
If you have persistent heartburn, then it’s cause for your doctor to try and find the reason. It’s more than likely to be a gastrointestinal issue, but if medication doesn’t work, then you’re within your rights to ask for testing. Heart issues in women can be much milder than they display in men; a fact that some doctors don’t even know.
If Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen: One option is to buy an at-home blood pressure monitoring kit and keep track of your levels. If there are spikes, then this is hard evidence your doctor should find difficult to overlook. You should also request a stress-test, which is one of the best ways of identifying underlying heart conditions.
It can be difficult to make yourself heard if you’re female and concerned about your health. You’re more likely to be told that you’re overreacting, that things aren’t that bad, or that there’s nothing to worry about. It therefore makes sense not only to educate yourself on how health conditions manifest in women, but also to take any “it’s all fine!” dismissal with a pinch of salt.
While it might be fine and you’re healthy as can be, there’s also too much evidence to suggest that women are frequently overlooked when it comes to managing their health – so don’t get left behind. Be forthright, a little cynical, and well aware of what should and shouldn’t be considered ‘normal’.