Women and Health


I’ve linked to many stories about how women’s health concerns have been ignored, either individually (by doctors not taking them seriously) or collectively (by drugs not being tested on women) (e.g. here) but I thought it would be a good idea to have a thread dedicated to these sorts of stories.

To begin,
She was told to lose weight, but something else was going on
An all-too familiar story of a woman who had health problems which were ignored or dismissed as lack of willpower for years until finally one doctor decided to test for polycystic ovarian syndrome which, of course, was the cause. It’s fucking infuriating that doctors can put people though so many years of frustration and ill-health because they’d rather pretend that the symptoms are due to some sort of moral failing rather than legitimate health concerns.

Of course, it’s not just women who face this kind of bias. Research published in PNAS found that there’s a racial bias in terms of pain perception,

“Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to white Americans. . . . [Our] findings suggest that individuals with at least some medical training hold and may use false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites to inform medical judgments, which may contribute to racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment.”



A really disturbing article on many levels,

The Pill pushback

Women are going off the pill after suffering side effects. The article doesn’t seem to give numbers so it isn’t clear how big an issue this is but what disturbed me most was the seeming indifference from doctors and the reliance on ‘natural family planning’ through the use of apps to track cycles which just makes me go :fearful:.

I’m also surprised at the prevalence of the coil over the implant. It may be because I love my implant but listening to friends describe their experiences of getting the coil fitted (and replaced) I can’t imagine ever wanting to go through it. The implant is simple, you get a local anaesthetic and there’s some bruising for a few days after but that’s about it. The coil in comparison seems downright barbaric and it baffles me that it still seems to be the preferred long-term method for so many people.

Going back to the article, it really worries me that people are going off the pill, seemingly without trying alternatives, and trusting that an app can tell them when to have safe sex. That’s a level of faith in technology I don’t know if I could share.



There was an article which I now can’t find, of course, about a woman who had horrendous period pain for years, couldn’t get her doctor to take it seriously, and eventually it turned out to be endometriosis. She had surgery, bingo, pain sorted.

In looking for that piece, though, I saw that Daisy Ridley has been talking about having endo and polycystic ovaries:

And from that we get back to the story of how some period pain is as bad as a heart attack:

And no one really seems to give a shit.



I think I remember that endometriosis article Suw, it was horrific.

This article has yet more stories of how women are ignored, this time blaming all their complaints on being overweight. I’m sure this happens to men as well but it does seem that women are particularly ‘punished’ for not being thin.



Talking of endometriosis, researchers are apparently progressing toward a diagnostic blood test for endometriosis.

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That would be amazing! Mine was only caught by accident, because I had an ovarian cyst. Without that, I would have continued suffering probably for the rest of my menstrual life. I had no idea that endo causes pain in the hips, thighs and lower back, all of which vanished after it was removed. It was a revelation after that surgery!

If this does turn into a simple blood test, frankly, every woman should be given it every few years. The number of women suffering is likely far, far higher than 10%, because most have no clue that their pain has a treatable cause.



Mothers are made to feel guilty whether they breastfeed or formula feed their baby
Another one to add to the list of ‘women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t’.

What Passed for Birth Control in the Victorian Era
An excerpt from a new book, Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners that looks at Victorian birth control.



Asking this question can help prevent unplanned pregnancies among teens
Asking teens if they want to get pregnant in the next year makes them more likely to use contraception.



Zambia women’s ‘day off for periods’ sparks debate
This is a fantastic idea, though I think that rather than give a special day off for periods we should just have a better approach to sickdays in general, and accept that period pain counts as a sick day.

Paula Johnson: When Does Medicine Leave Women Behind?
A TED talk on how medicine isn’t tested on, or designed for, women.

I told my doctor I didn’t want kids. She sent me to a therapist.
In so-called liberal Sweden, a woman was denied bodily autonomy.

In 1914, Feminists Fought for the Right to Forget Childbirth
A fascinating tale. I first came across this in the [Spoiler Alert for Mad Men] episode where Peggy gave birth.

Living with children may mean less sleep for women, but not for men
Research that will surprise no-one.



A new study debunks the “period brain” myth - that menstruation changes how you think

El Salvador teen rape victim sentenced to 30 years in prison after stillbirth

Teen Dies From Snake Bite After Being Sent to Menstruation Shed In Nepal

‘We were guinea pigs’: Jailed inmates agreed to birth control



Period of change: the women fighting to break Hong Kong’s menstruation taboo



Female doctors show more empathy than male doctors

More on periods:
Heavy flow: are period pants the revolutionary solution to an age old problem?



Gabrielle Deydier: what it’s like to be fat in France
Fat-shaming is horribly common throughout the western world but it seems that France has taken it to extremes. Gabriele Deydier has written a book about her experiences and this interview with her is revelatory and rather horrifying.



Vaginal mesh is used to help fix prolapsed vaginas but it seems this mesh has been causing far more harm than the prolapses it was supposed to be treating. Cases in Australia and the UK have come to light and Australia has held an inquiry. What’s been most troubling with this story is the way that women’s concerns were dismissed by their doctors and even joked about. These are some of the articles written about the Australian and UK situations.

Vaginal mesh scandal: doctor jokes women should try anal instead

Perth doctor ‘aghast’ at sex advice to pelvic mesh victims
A Perth doctor was left speechless after Federal Senators at a pelvic mesh inquiry in Perth on Friday said women unable to have vaginal sex after mesh surgery “repeatedly” reported that their doctors suggested anal sex as an alternative…

[A Senate] hearing was told 90 per cent of women surveyed had not been warned of the sometimes high risk of serious pelvic mesh complications, and many women had no idea they were implanted with mesh until waking from surgery, and sometimes not until many years later…

“Women who have gone for consultations have been scoffed at, mocked, humiliated and disregarded by some of their doctors,” Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group founder Caz Chisholm and director Stella Channing said.

Half Of The Women With Mesh Implant Complications Lose Their Partners, A Senate Inquiry Hears

Many of the women testifying on Monday could not sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time, so leaned against the walls or paced along the back of the room in New South Wales parliament…One woman, identified only as Madeleine, testified via phone at the hearing about how her “vagina felt like it was full of barbed wire and shards of glass” after her implant was inserted.

Revealed: Johnson & Johnson’s ‘irresponsible’ actions over vaginal mesh implant

Vaginal mesh scandal: women don’t need body-shaming on top of their pain



Make access to abortion easier, UK’s top gynaecologist demands

“The current need for two doctors’ signatures to certify that a woman is approved to undergo an abortion causes unnecessary delays in women’s access to abortion services. There are no other situations where either competent men or women require permission from two third parties to make a personal healthcare decision."

‘Paying to stay safe’: why women don’t walk as much as men

“If one person doesn’t walk a whole lot, maybe they’re lazy. If hundreds of thousands of people – and especially women – don’t walk a lot? That’s not an individual laziness problem, that’s a societal problem,” says the Stanford study’s lead researcher, Tim Althoff… talk to women all over the world about their walking habits, and one issue comes up again and again: personal safety.



[The healthcare gender bias: do men get better medical treatment?][1]

It’s nice to see the mainstream press taking notice of this issue at last.
[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/nov/20/healthcare-gender-bias-women-pain



Court in El Salvador Will Not Overturn Woman’s 30-Year Jail Sentence Over Stillbirth
This is despicable.

This woman was jailed for 30 years for having a miscarriage. She’s already served a decade and her appeal has just been rejected. What a waste of a life.