The medical profession continues to fail women

You may have seen Wil Weaton’s blog posts on his wife’s misdiagnosed ovarian torsion and how much unnecessary pain that caused her. Sadly, this is not an exception. The medical profession continues to fail women.

Refusal of diagnosis

I have my own horrible experience with male doctors who refused to acknowledge something was wrong with me.

When I was twelve I started menstruating, like most girls my age. Unlike most girls my age, my period cramps were horrific right from my first period. For one to two days a month I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t walk or keep any food down. Forget going to school. My bleeding was so bad I started wearing diapers at night.

Of course my mum took me to the doctor’s. She was concerned, but she also had an unhealthy reverence for the doctor. When the doctor proclaimed – without even examining me – that having cramps is part of a girl’s period and sent me home with painkillers, that was case closed as far as my mum was concerned.

Over the years, the pain kept getting worse. I went back to the doctor’s, but apart from prescribing heavier painkillers he did nothing. He never referred me to a gynaecologist or examined me in any way. At one point when I came to see him, he asked me whether I was on my period right then. When I answered in the affirmative, he said, ‘You were able to come here today, weren’t you? The pain can’t be that bad.’

My blood still boils when I think of that.

15 years later I was – purely by accident – diagnosed with severe, widespread endometiosis. ‘How did you manage for so long?’ my OB/GYN at the time asked me.

Refusal of treatment

I was lucky that my OB/GYN at the time is a leading expert of endometriosis, so when he encountered endometriosis during a laparoscopy for a different issue, he removed everything he found. Fast forward another 10 years and my pain had come back in full force. Once again I had to battle with my GP to get the proper care, even though in the UK we have specialist endometriosis centres. Again, this time my GYN is a leading expert in endometriosis. I was offered a range of treatments and chose for a full pelvic clearance, which means removal of uterus, ovaries, cervix and fallopian tubes. It was the best decision of my life, particularly since it was discovered at the biopsy that I also had adenomyosis. Since my surgery last August I have never felt so good and my sex drive has come back in force.

I was very lucky to receive such great treatment. Many women aren’t though. In speaking on forums with other women who suffer from endometriosis or adenonomyosis (or both!) some of them told me that their doctors refused to perform a hysterectomy even though said women indicated they felt this was the best option for them and they either didn’t want children or were finished having children. The reason for refusal? Because one day these women might meet a man who would want children. So the doctors forced these women to suffer for years on end because of a fictitious man who might one day want to make her go through the pain of child bearing and birth.

This has to change

Needless to say, this has to change. We need better education for our doctors. As Wil Wheaton puts it in his blog:

I get angry when I realize that my wife, the most important person in my world, has suffered longer than she should have, because two men didn’t ask themselves if pain originating in part of a woman’s body that is fundamentally different from a man’s body may have something to do with that difference.

Women won’t get better care until doctors are taught to listen to us, listen to our complaints and take us seriously. No one took my pain seriously and I suffered with pain and heavy medication for 15 years before it was acknowledged and given a name. This has to end.

Summer 100 Sex blogger challenge

This post is part of the Summer 100 Sex Blogger Challenge. Check out some of the other participants’ posts:

Kirsten reviews the Tantus Uncut 2 dildo which looks very nice compared to most dildos I have seen.

And for those of us who speak Dutch, Tess reviewed a stone dildo, which I find very intriguing. I have a glass one, so maybe I should look into a stone one as well…

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