Have you ever experienced gender bias by a healthcare provider? A survey conducted in 2019 showed that over 50 percent of women are concerned about gender discrimination within healthcare and consider it to be a very concerning issue. A lot of women feel mistreated or ignored in a healthcare environment because of their gender. It is important to acknowledge that males and females are not the same, they have differences within their bodies and that needs to be recognized from a healthcare perspective. Women can be overlooked when they come into a doctor’s office or hospital. Women are less likely to be given painkillers than men because they can be considered to be overdramatic and exaggerating their problems. Endometriosis is a disorder where your cells grow outside of your uterus, and tissue is found in areas like the ovaries or fallopian tubes. This is a very painful disease that can affect nearby organs. It was found that on average it can take 7-10 years for women to get an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis.
When going to the doctor whether it is a normal check-up or going to see your OBGYN, most women prefer to have a female physician. Around two years ago I went to an OBGYN consultation appointment, after the nurse came in she asked me a few questions and let me know the doctor would be in shortly. When the doctor walked in, I immediately noticed he was male. I felt uncomfortable because this was my first gynecologist appointment. Nobody should ever feel uncomfortable in a healthcare environment, so I worked up the courage to ask for a female physician. I was told there were no available female doctors for me, so I called my mom and she told me to leave the office and she will find me another gynecologist. This is something no woman should have to go through, we should be able to feel like we are in a safe space when we are at the doctor’s, which can be hard considering the medical field is predominantly men.
Another topic that is talked about is how IUD insertion is not considered a medical procedure. I found an article by Gina Tron talking about her experience with IUD insertion. An IUD is a form of birth control that is usually plastic, about an inch long, and inserted in your uterus. She talks about how she has a very high pain tolerance and expected this procedure to feel like a pinch, she was told by her doctor it was not super painful and lasted five minutes. Once the procedure started she said it was an extreme amount of pain, she cried out and started sobbing. The doctor told her this was how most women reacted when getting an IUD put in. Many doctors, specifically male, tend to minimize the pain that women feel. All that is recommended before the procedure is to take ibuprofen. Medically professionals should listen to women and believe them when they say they are in pain or they know something is wrong. Although uncommon, I believe that women should be given the option of anesthesia or numbing gel for any kind of OBGYN procedure whether it is an IUD, pap smear, or anything else along those lines.
Overall I think our healthcare system needs to improve on being all inclusive and make everyone feel comfortable and that they are getting the best treatment possible. It is clear that women are overlooked and are not given the most comfortable and safe environment within healthcare. I believe that the gender bias in healthcare is a serious issue and could be easily corrected if it was talked about more.