If you spend any time talking to someone who deals with the medical system on a regular basis, it’s pretty clear that women are under treated for pain as compared to men. I’ve had my own experiences with this, being brushed off and told I was just depressed or that I was crazy, but more and more research is validating this fact.
So why are so many women continually being under treated for pain when it is a known fact? One reason is that researchers are just beginning to learn that men and women’s bodies respond to pain differently, a fact that many doctors either don’t know or like to ignore. Additionally, because women’s bodies respond differently women do seek treatment for pain more then men. For example, women are much more likely to suffer form auto-immune diseases which often include debilitating pain. They are also four to seven times more likely to suffer from Fibromyalgia than men. There are clearly some biological differences between women in men but instead of acknowledging this the stereotype that women are weak and emotion lives on.
These studies aren’t exactly encouraging. As someone who is not beautiful when I’m in pain, it horrifies me that if I were more attractive I would be taken seriously. Under treated pain can lead to some serious side effects, not to mention the loss of quality of life, so why aren’t doctors taking this information more seriously? Why aren’t doctors listening to the women who come to them for treatment?
*Hadjistavropoulos T, McMurty B, Craig KD. Beautiful faces in pain: Biases and accuracy in the perception of pain. Psychol Health. 1996;11(3):311-420
*Fishbain DA, Goldberg M, Meagher BR, et al. Male and female chronic pain patients categorized by DSM-III psychiatric diagnostic criteria. Pain. 1986;26(2):181-197.