If you’re a woman, chances are you know what it feels like to have a doctor not take your pain or symptoms seriously—especially if you have a chronic illness. If you know what it’s like to have to see several different health-care providers before finally getting answers, you are not alone, and now, a viral tweet is pointing out how often—and how many—women deal with this issue.
It all started when writer Suzannah Weiss tweeted about her own experience. It took her 17 doctors and 11 months to finally get to the bottom of her condition and receive treatment for it. Along the way, she experienced misdiagnoses, wrongly prescribed medications, and even being told that her symptoms were all in her head.
Since Weiss shared her story, almost 100 women have come forward to talk about their own experiences, and it’s horrifying to see exactly how many haven’t been taken seriously by their health-care providers.
“When I share my story of doctors dismissing my health concerns, shaming me, and not being able to figure out what’s going on or how to help me, I’m always blown away by how many women can relate,” Weiss told HelloGiggles. “Research shows that doctors are less likely to treat women’s pain and take longer to diagnose women (the average time it takes for endometriosis to get diagnosed is six to 10 years!). Women, like the ones in my thread, often describe doctors attributing their symptoms to anxiety or depression—or, worse, telling them they somehow brought their illnesses on themselves.”
"On top of that, medical research primarily uses male subjects and neglects health issues that disproportionately affect women. The end result of all these problems is that women and other oppressed groups are more likely to be living with chronic health problems, often without appropriate treatment. Since health care is such a basic necessity, this disadvantage sets women back in every area of their lives and stops them from attaining the power in society that they deserve and that the world needs."
And it’s not just about being dismissed by doctors. Weiss also believes that the way women’s bodies are viewed in general is part of the problem.
“Another part of the problem is a widespread view of the female body as inherently defective, leading to the normalization of symptoms like painful periods, pain during sex, and sexual dysfunction,” she said. “These issues should not be considered normal, as they compromise women’s quality of life and point toward underlying problems that need addressing.”
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Weiss is right—and the women responding to her tweet are proof.
Hopefully, women speaking out about this issue will help bring change, but until that happens, remember that it’s okay to be your own advocate and to demand the care that you deserve. It should be a lot easier than it is to get proper care, but it could change your life to find a doctor who will listen.