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Endometriosis: When Women Aren't Taken Seriously
by Rachel Gurevich, March 17, 2011
March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, and I’m thinking about all those women who live with endometriosis every day. My heart today, however, is especially focused on those women who have endometriosis, but don’t know it yet. Could that woman be you?
According to Endometriosis.org, a survey in 2005 found that it takes an average of eight years for a woman to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Eight years! Of these women, 65 percent get a misdiagnosis first, and up to 50 percent of women need to see five or more medical professionals before they get the care they need.
That is just … crazy!
Why Does It Take So Long to Get an Endometriosis Diagnosis?
The question I’m asking myself today is why? Why does it take so long to get diagnosed? And why do they need to see so many different doctors before something is done?
I’d like to say that it’s due to the complicated nature of endometriosis diagnosis, which can only officially be done through laparoscopy. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the main problem.
I suspect the issue is that women are not being taken seriously.
The main symptom for most women with endometriosis, besides infertility, is painful menstrual cramps. Pain is a symptom that doctors are willing to take seriously if they can explain it easily, but if not, is often written off quickly as psychosomatic (ie, it’s all in your head) or not as bad as the patient is describing.
Women Not Take Seriously with Other Diseases, Too
A good example of women's pain not being taken seriously is with heart disease. According to womenshealth.gov, when compared to men, women experiencing heart attack symptoms are twice as likely to be sent home and not have their heart attack symptoms taken seriously. This makes women more likely to die from a heart attack than men.
It’s not hard to see how a woman complaining of cramps might be told to take it easy and use a hot water bottle, and then be written off as being a hypochondriac.
And how many times have women not been taken seriously when it comes to infertility? I have heard numerous stories, especially from younger women, about women going to their doctor with concerns about irregular cycles or trouble conceiving, only to be told to go home and keep trying — despite the fact that they have tried plenty long enough!
I say it’s time women are taken seriously. Medical care professionals, are you up for the challenge to listen?
And readers, what do you think? Have your symptoms of infertility or another medical condition not been taken seriously? What did you do? How did you get the help and care you needed? (Or didn’t you?) I’d love to read about your experience in the comments.