Majority Of Women Feel Their Pain Is Not Taken Seriously

The urgent need to address the stark inequalities around women’s pain highlighted.

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A woman holding her head looking like she is about to cry. 56 percent of women feel the pain they experience is ignored or dismissed. GROUND PICTURE/ VIA SHUTTERSTOCK

Women feel their pain is not taken seriously – and is often ignored, or they are deemed ‘emotional.’

A poll of 5,100 adults found 56 percent of women feel the pain they experience is ignored or dismissed, with 50 percent of those feeling this way when seeking support from a GP. While 27 percent have felt the same when opening up to other healthcare professionals. But 26 percent felt their partners or significant other has been dismissive of their discomfort, with 21 percent saying the same about friends.

Of those who felt their pain was ignored or dismissed, 24 percent of women compared to 17 percent of men said, generally, no one took their pain seriously.In fact, nearly half (48 percent) of all adults surveyed believe there is a gap in the identification and treatment of pain between each gender.

The research was commissioned by Nurofen, which has launched its ‘Gender Pain Gap Index Report’ from the findings.Of the adults surveyed who think the gender pain gap exists, 63 percent of women and only 39 percent of men believe women are not always taken as seriously because they’re viewed as emotional.

“Gender bias in medical knowledge, research and practice is deeply ingrained.Dr. Elinor Cleghorn Ph.D., a feminist cultural historian and author of Unwell Women, who advised on the report, said.

“Today, we are facing up to the consequences of centuries-long discriminatory misbelief about women’s pain.”

The misunderstanding, minimization and misdiagnosis of women’s pain-causing health conditions are compounded by the pervasive influence of gender norms and stereotypes that are not only medical but social and cultural. It is clear from the research that there is a gender pain gap when it comes to the experience of women’s pain. We need to take action to tackle this long-standing issue.

The study also found that when experiencing pain, 74 percent of women regularly choose self-care instead of seeing a healthcare professional, compared to 60 percent of men. Nearly a third of women (31 percent) didn’t want to waste their healthcare professionals’ time, and 27 percent felt it was easier to self-diagnose due to waiting times.

Yet, one in six women (16 percent) are experiencing severe pain on any given day.
The research, conducted via OnePoll, found women were more likely to suffer from headaches, migraines, and fibromyalgia. While period pain and endometriosis are also big contributors to the discomfort experienced in women’s lives.

In fact, 32 percent of women suffered from period pain as part of their daily lives, and 18 percent who suffer from endometriosis pain experienced it for three to five years. It also emerged 41 percent of women have trouble sleeping due to their pain, 39 percent felt less able to exercise, and 24 percent said they felt depressed.

As a result, 65 percent of all the women surveyed would like more access to information regarding their pain. After revealing the extent of the gender pain gap, Nurofen is announcing a suite of commitments to identify and implement actions with the aim of helping drive real change for women and their pains, and is encouraging other organizations to join them on their mission.

“We hear time and time again of women being dismissed or not taken seriously when it comes to their pain.  Many women feel they need to put up with discomfort and pain, and that this is a ‘normal’ part of women’s health – and this is completely unacceptable.” Janet Lindsay, CEO of Wellbeing of Women, said.

This report highlights the urgent need to address the stark inequalities a round women’s pain.

“We must all work together to close the gender health gap once and for all, by improving research, and ensuring better access to information, care and support for women. I am very proud to be introducing the very first Nurofen Gender Pain Gap Index Report and to be taking decisive steps to help close the gap once and for all. We are committed to delivering real changes that will, ultimately, improve women’s experience and treatment of pain, and we welcome other organizations to join us in our mission.” Dr. Angela Naef, Reckitt’s chief research and development officer, said.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker.

(Additional reporting provided by Talker News)

Edited by Christine Achieng Odera and Joseph Hammond