Column: the Gender Pain Gap

Would it shock you to know that women experience heart attacks completely differently to men, and as a result some women are prescribed heart medication that is meant to prevent heart attacks but actually triggers them?

This is all a result of something known as the Gender Pain Gap. Too often pain women experience is written off as normal or something they should deal with. Not only is women’s pain underestimated, on the basis of this underestimation pain is often under treated. 

Everyone, no matter who they are, or what they can afford, has an equal right to good quality, free healthcare.

But across the country our health outcomes remain unequal. 

Our class, geography and gender still have an impact on the quality of the care we are likely to receive and our likely health outcomes.

A study by Manual, a wellbeing platform for men, has found that in many countries, men are more likely to face greater health risks than women. 

However, the UK does not follow this trend.

They found that the UK has the largest female health gap in the G20 - the world’s 20 largest economies - and the 12th largest globally.

Studies have found women are less likely to be included in medical studies and are less likely to be admitted to hospital and receive stress tests when they complain of chest pain.

Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed, and are significantly more likely than men to be undertreated for pain by doctors. Even after identical procedures, studies have found that women get prescribed less pain medication than men.

There is mounting evidence that the impact of female-specific health conditions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis, pregnancy-related issues and the menopause is being overlooked.

On average it takes 7 to 8 years for women to receive a diagnosis of endometriosis, with 40% of women needing 10 or more GP appointments before being referred to a specialist.

The same number of people suffer from Type 1 diabetes as endometriosis and yet funding for research into diabetes is 35 times greater than that for endometriosis.

The Government have acknowledged that there is ‘strong evidence about the need for greater focus on women’s health’ and announced their intention to further consult on ‘a new women’s health strategy’.

But I fear that all of the concern will come to little, if our NHS is not given the support it needs to deliver.

The Government’s rejection of an adequate NHS Recovery Plan is undermining already stretched services and waiting times.

We need to look forward to a brighter future, with shorter waiting times and better outcomes.

That won’t be achieved through words alone, we need action to tackle the Gender Pain Gap.

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  • Stephanie Peacock
    published this page in What I'm up to 2021-09-09 15:22:12 +0100