Facebook Pixel

Medical Sexism: Have You Experienced This? Join this Group

Have your health issues not been taken seriously because you are a woman?

By HERWriter Guide November 26, 2011 - 12:44pm

Hi Everyone
Thank you to Kitchenista for starting such an important group on such a topic! It's not something we have talked much on in Groups at all!
I think sexism in health is certainly not as rampant as it used to be but is likely still there.

If anyone has a story to share or input, we'd love to hear from you!


By April 21, 2012 - 10:57am

In spite of my negative life experiences with the opposite sex, I do (and have always) believe there are good men in this world.

I am a hopeful personal by nature who has had a few blows and hard knocks. But, I see how important it is personally to not allow myself to be embittered.

I do appreciate your perspective and I hope I didn't come across too harsh toward you.


April 21, 2012 - 10:57am
By April 18, 2012 - 8:42am

Thanks for that perspective. I don't "understand" in the sense of having been in your shoes. However, there are men who are feminists, just as there are women who minimize women's suffering. Your journey to where you are now will no doubt be an inspiration and guiding light to many women who have gone through, or are going through, struggles like yours.

April 18, 2012 - 8:42am
By April 17, 2012 - 4:32pm

Dr. Heller,

I'm a bit taken aback. When I first read this thread, I didn't realize you were a man. I thought it was a female physician who wrote the post.

To be completely honest, as much as I want to believe that you really understand what women go through, I am a bit suspicious.

To give you a little context, with the exception of one relationship, I have been in one abusive relationship after another my entire life. My first marriage was a raging, physically and emotionally abusive alcoholic.

My second marriage has been 15 years of misogynistic, passive-aggressive abuse that has been completely emotional and manipulative.

I am now getting a divorce and standing up for myself. Claiming some power and walking away from the coward. My father was abusive to me. I've been sexually harassed on EVERY SINGLE JOB I've ever had where I wasn't working for myself. EVERY. SINGLE. JOB.

My track record with men has not been healthy. So, I bring ALL of that history and experience to the table. I would like very much to believe that you really "get it" and understand what women put up with, but I am having a hard time really accepting it.

I'm 55 years old.......that's a lot of years of dealing with unhealthy men.


April 17, 2012 - 4:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
By Anonymous April 17, 2012 - 4:30pm


April 17, 2012 - 4:30pm
By April 17, 2012 - 12:14pm

Thanks Magnolia. It is amazing that 42 years after the genesis of modern feminism, this is still an issue. And, it is so revealing that (and I understand why!) you feel the need to defend yourself as not a "feminazi" in making a simple and true statement - women don't get treated the same as men.

Here's a blog post on this topic: http://j.mp/x5WXew

Dr. Daniel Heller
PMS Comfort

April 17, 2012 - 12:14pm
By March 21, 2012 - 6:19am

Great topic! Yes, I've experienced it, and I write about it regularly. The main reason I decided to pursue my graduate work in healthcare consumer advocacy is because of the treatment I received when I was in perimenopause, and the treatment so many of my readers receive as well.

We are so often patronized and treated as if we are mental cases, "unstable" and just a wee bit off-kilter. It makes me nuts!

I'm not much on being a feminist Nazi, but I REALLY get sick of being dismissed because of my internal plumbing. And yes, as Dr. Heller points out, healthcare providers are people with their biases too. We can't ever forget that.


March 21, 2012 - 6:19am
By March 9, 2012 - 12:34pm

Kitchenista and Susan, great topic. I think there is less sexism now than there used to be. However, for a woman sitting in her doctor's office experiencing sexism, in the form of being told that her symptoms are in her imagination, or not having tests ordered that might be ordered for a man (this still happens!), there is 100% sexism and gender bias, and it makes no difference if there is 20% less sexism in medicine than there used to be.
Given my focus on PMS and PMDD, I have to say that there is tremendous sexism remaining in medicine, because many doctors still mistakenly believe - despite volumes of scientific research to the contrary - that these conditions are in women's imaginations. Really! (Here is one small example of a woman who experienced this: http://www.pmscomfort.com/pms-stories/pms-irritability-bloating-headaches.aspx )
Doctors and health care practitioners are people, and have the same prejudices and preconceptions that all people have. In an ideal world, it might not be this way, but many women will have to assert themselves much more, and be much more of an advocate for their own cause, in order to get the same level of medical care.
Dr. Daniel Heller
PMS Comfort

March 9, 2012 - 12:34pm

Group Leader

Related Topics


As women we are often not taken seriously with our symptoms, but lumped into the "psycho-somatic" or "hysterical" or "psychologically depressed" category when we present with symptoms that may stump doctors. How often have you got to the doctor with very real symptoms only to leave with an RX for depression meds, or advice to see a shrink, or some Maalox when you were having a heart attack? Do you know that the word "hysterical" has as it's root the latin word "hyster" which mean uterus!! So how many thousands of years have women been brushed off as crazy because they possess a uterus and not taken seriously for their health concerns! The following link is to a news report that shows how medical sexism is particularly prevalent when it comes to diagnosing and treating women's heart disease. I myself was given acid reflux medicine and sent home from the hospital when I was actually having a heart attack. It took another stronger attack later that same day for the hospital to take me seriously...but even then they didn't give me the tests I needed to properly diagnose me until two days later. Watch this clip and then post your own stories here to help others circumvent medical sexism and it's dangers. We must be our own strong advocates in doctors offices and ERs everywhere! http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news%2Fhealth%2Fyour_health&id=84 16664&mid=51 I am a writer, classically-trained chef, food blogger, food photographer and stylist and heart attach/SCAD survivor. Read more about me on my blog: http://food-fix.com Rachel Willen


This Group is Open to all EmpowHER.com members