I have long talked about the serious problem of medical sexism and how badly woman are treated by doctors as compared to men. Here’s just a few basic statistics as a refresher about medical sexism:
- Women are more likely to be given sedatives for their pain, while men are more likely to be given pain medication.
- Women who complained of abdominal pain in the ER were significantly less likely to get any kind of pain medication and were 15% to 23% less likely than men to get opioids specifically.
- Women in the ER had to wait longer the men before they got any pain medicine—65 minutes on average, compared with 49 for men.
- A 2003 study of doctor’s pain management knowledge and attitudes published in found in The Journal of Pain that women were less likely then men to receive “optimal treatment” for post surgical or cancer related pain.
- In 2011, the Institute of Medicine published a report called “Relieving Pain in America.” It found that not only did women appear to suffer more from pain, but that women’s reports of pain were more likely to be dismissed.
Now we’ll get to the heart of medical sexism. Yesterday my husband was offered pain medication (he didn’t ask, it was offered) for a broken toe. When he turned it down the doctor said just to call the office if he changed his mind. Never once have I been openly offered pain medication for any surgery or medical condition I’ve ever had. I always had to ask which means I get labeled as a drug addict. Even with surgery and kidney stones, being treated for pain was never a given. Apparently if I need pain medication next time I have surgery I should send my husband to urgent care with a sore neck. Yes, I am aware this is illegal, but it should also be illegal to deny women pain medication based on the “hysterical woman” stereotype. Kidney stones and broken toes are not comparable pain, and yet I am the one who is always accused of exaggerating.
Women experience more pain then men, but they actually get less treatment for it. Maybe instead of becoming hysterical about the “opioid epidemic”, we should be more worried about the epidemic of women being demonized and abandoned by our medical system.