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Doctors Say Period Pain Same As Heart Attack, Pain in Females Disregarded?

Jun 01, 2016 04:17 AM EDT

A new research revealed that menstrual pain can be as bad as "having a heart attack." But medical experts don't seem to take women's period pains seriously.         

Worse still, they have been completely ignored.

According to John Guillebaud, professor of reproductive health at University College London, menstrual cramps can be almost as bad as a heart attack.

"Men don't get it and it hasn't been given the centrality it should have," Guillebaud said in a report in The Independent. "I do believe it's something that should be taken care of, like anything else in medicine."

Dr. Imogen Shaw, a GP specializing in women's health, said that period paid has not been widely investigated. When asked if it would have been different if men experienced it, he said: "I suspect there would be, being very cynical."

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, period pain or primary dysmenorrhea is affecting the daily life of one in five women. However, this condition is seldom given medical attention. Few research has been conducted on pain prevention or pain relief. The use of tampons, moon-cups and sanitary towels are basic knowledge.

It is not only women's period pains that are getting little medical attention; doctors are almost completely ignoring women's pain.

Is there gender bias in medical treatment?

In a recent research, it was said that men wait an average of 49 minutes before being treated for abdominal pain. Women, however, have to wait 65 minutes before being treated for the same symptoms.

In 2015, a 21-year-old woman died from cervical cancer. But before she was diagnosed, doctors put her stomach cramps down to "growing pains or thrush." Other women have the same experiences, saying that doctors sent them away with painkillers and advice to do hot compress.

Also recently, writer Joe Fassler told The Atlantic how he experienced this same gender bias when his wife, Rachel, was rushed to the ER due to abdominal pain. The hospital staff downplayed Rachel's pain to the point of almost ignoring it.

It turns out that Fassler's wife was suffering from ovarian torsion, which is a surgical emergency. But she had to wait 90 minutes for medication and was not even examined by the physician. After finally being diagnosed, she was sent to surgery 14.5 hours after the pain had started.

A study done by professors of the University of Maryland explored this topic. According to the research, women have lower pain thresholds and higher pain ratings than men, yet they are more likely to receive less treatment for their pain.

The researchers noted the following reasons health care providers are somewhat biased in treating women's pain versus men's pain:

1.     Men typically complain less than women, so when they complain, "it must be real."

2.     Women should be able to tolerate pain better, after all, they can handle childbirth.

3.     Women aren't accurate when reporting pain; they tend to complain and exaggerate.

"Pain is subjective. [Health care providers] are supposed to believe whatever the person tells you," Anita Tarzian, co-author of the study, told Mother Nature Network.

"Women are more likely to report how pain will affect their roles and duties--'I can't take care of my children'-whereas men will report more with how pain affects their ability to go to work. It may appear more threatening if men can't go to work and provide for the family. I think there's the sense that women should suck it up more and aren't supposed to complain," she added.

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