Natural MD Radio: How Medical Gender Bias is Killing Women and How to Save Your Own Life


Medicine has a lot of terms I dislike. Historically these have included phrases like incompetent cervix and failure to progress in labor – phrases that put the blame on the woman’s body. The word that bothers me the most these days is part of the daily medical lexicon. It appears at the top of every single medical chart of every single patient in the country. It’s the first thing your doctor sees after seeing your name. It’s in the phrase chief complaint.

It’s the word ‘complaint’ that bothers me because it’s killing women.

When Silence is Deadly

From the time we’re little girls, we’re taught not to complain. Even as adult women we tell ourselves to deal with things that are bothering us by having gratitude. We’ve learned somewhere along the line that voicing our needs, expressing our dissatisfactions, our discomfort, our pain, is whining, it’s complaining. So we don’t complain, for example, when we’re in our late 40’s or early 50’s and suddenly tired for a few days, are nauseated, don’t feel right, maybe feel more anxious than usual, and have a bit of heaviness in our chests. The problem is that we might not complain our way right through a heart attack.

Keeping silent is killing women, literally. Words like ‘complaint’ reflect the bias of a system that belittles women. We are likely to convince ourselves that serious symptoms are nothing in order not to complain about it. And when we do speak up, when we do say something is wrong, in the medical culture we are more likely to be ignored, condescended to, dismissed, and disregarded than men. Most women who come to see me as patients have had some experience of feeling invisible or being treated that way in a medical appointment or in the hospital. Millions of women leave medical offices every day without a diagnosis for serious medical conditions because of this phenomenon.

The statistics bear this out. The preponderance of conditions for which women are ignored and dismissed are conditions that primarily affect women. Autoimmune conditions are an example. This collection of conditions, in which your own immune system attacks your own tissue, include about a hundred different conditions, most notably Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few. Autoimmune diseases make it into the top ten killers of women annually, yet it can take years for a woman to get a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease even when going to multiple different doctors with her multiple different concerns. It can take years to get a proper diagnosis of an autoimmune condition. And 78% of those who suffer with one (or more) in the US are women. 

Notice that I don’t use the word complaint. I use the word concern. Why? Because my patients don’t have complaints; they have concerns. Most doctors see the word complaint day in and day out, and when they hear symptoms like fatigue, weakness, pain, stress, they assume that it’s depression or anxiety. Most often, they write a prescription for an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication. It doesn’t help that the average physician has 13 minutes with a patient to not only hear her concerns, but to check off all the boxes he or she is supposed to in order to get insurance to reimburse for the visit.

Women’s Conditions are Marginalized; Women Having Heart Attacks are Ignored, Too

It is almost entirely women who suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome which, less than ten years ago weren’t even considered ‘real’ conditions by the medical establishment. Not too long before that, neither was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These were all considered fringe diagnoses doled out by alternative practitioners. Women who visited their physicians and said “I think I have chronic fatigue syndrome” or presented a list of symptoms that sounded like it often received eye rolls and even verbally dismissive comments. (Nowadays women report getting the same kind of response from their doctors when they say they think they have a thyroid or adrenal problem!) Guess what these women were called? ‘Difficult patients,’ ‘complainers,’or ‘those kind’ of patients, suggesting that they really had a psychological issue or were just complainers.

Today we know that IBS, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome are very real medical conditions with very real physiologic underpinnings, and yet, amazingly, most doctors still marginalize these women. Medical journals still feel the need to publish articles explaining to doctors that these are real conditions and that they have to treat patients with respect, not dismissively. Yet these medical conditions, affecting millions of women, are only taught in about 30% of medial schools.

The stakes can get even higher. More women than men have died each year from heart attack or heart disease-related causes since 1984 than men, yet, when women under 55 do have heart attacks, those women are about twice as likely to die as men. This is partly because the model of heart attacks is based on men’s presentation which usually includes chest pain. Women don’t typically present with heart attacks with chest pain. A woman experiencing a heart attack is just as likely to present with new onset or unusual fatigue, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, right arm pain – or nausea and vomiting, sweating, lightheadedness or dizziness. Thus women are likely not to recognize that they’re having symptoms of heart attack, but neither are their doctors because they assume that if it’s not chest pain, something else is going on. What’s that something else usually dismissed as? Stress or anxiety.

In fact, that’s what Carol told me had been going on for her for three days before she came into the emergency department where I was working. After reviewing her symptoms and case with my attending doctor (I was a resident), given that she had no chest pain he told me I could send her home. I asked if we could keep her for a few hours for observation and run some tests, and he agreed. It turned out that she was in the early stages of a heart attack. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go so well for women with similar symptoms coming to the hospital.

A study done in 2012 tracking over a million heart attacks from 1994 to 2006 found that women didn’t receive the kind of attention that men did when they were having a heart attack, explaining why 15% of women are likely to die in the hospital from heart attacks compared to 10% of men. The scarier thing is that many women who come into the hospital thinking they’re having a heart attack do actually have chest pain, but they’re dismissed also, told it’s anxiety or stress. Once a woman says “stress,” guess what, ladies? It’s considered all in our heads.

Paying Attention to Your Symptoms Does Not Make You a Hypochondriac

I had an experience in which I was dismissed. Over a period of a few years, I noticed that my exercise tolerance had been going down. It started around when I was 36. Even though I was fit and healthy, whenever I rode my bicycle or took a run and tried to go uphill, my heart started racing wildly. I would get overheated and nauseated. My blood would pound in my ears and I’d feel like I was going to faint. Mostly I had to just sit down and let it pass. Then, twice in my medical training (when I was 39 or 40), over a few weeks back to back, I had to run to codes. Codes are like in Grey’s Anatomy when everyone goes running to help resuscitate a dying patient.

One of these times, I had to run up six flights of stairs. The other, I had to run the equivalent of a city block. Both times before I got to the code, I nearly fainted and had to sit down, until finally the third time, I did faint, and a rapid response was called on me in the hospital. A bag of IV fluid later, a very dashing cardiologist told me it was just stress. I was a busy mom, he said, overworked in my medical training and dehydrated. “No”, I said, “I don’t think so. Something is up.” He assured me it was not, so I sought out another opinion.

An exercise stress test later in the cardiologist’s office, after I nearly passed out on the treadmill, the cardiologist came into the room laughing. “What’s so funny?” I asked him. He said, “I thought you were just another hypochondriac medical student, but you actually have an electrical conduction issue going on in your heart. You can get a pacemaker or you can just learn to accommodate to it.” “I’ll accommodate. Thank you very much”, I informed him, “And no, I am not hypochondriac.” This term has historically been applied to women as has the word hysterical, which incidentally has its origins in the Greek word for uterus. Hysteria was a condition thought to affect only women causing us to be neurotic and insane. Need I say more?

Be a Bad Girl. It Can Save Your Life.

How can you save your own life? Here’s what I recommend.

First, trust yourself. Like I did, if you think something is up, speak up. You have to. Nobody is going to do it for you and you’ve got to get comfortable making yourself heard. Whether you’re in your primary care provider’s office or the emergency department, tell them something is up, that you don’t usually have these symptoms and you need proper medical attention. Don’t get sent home without a diagnosis.

If you have a chronic health problem, you might have to do some of your own homework, so do it. Look on the internet or look in books for trusted sources, ideally people with a recognizable credential, but sometimes even what I call ‘citizen scientists’. Other women who have had to figure out for themselves can be good resources too. Make a list using those resources of what tests you think you need or what condition you think you might have, and then schedule an appointment specifically to discuss your concerns with your primary provider. Don’t try to squeeze it into a time when you’re having a full physical or a pap smear or anything else. When you call the office to make an appointment, let them know you need a full appointment time – that’s usually 40 minutes or 50 minutes depending on the practice – not just a 15- or 25-minute quick visit.

Bring an advocate with you, someone who isn’t a pushover when it comes to authority and who’s absolutely going to have your back, and not do some weird team up with the doctor if there’s a powerplay going on. People do weird things around authority, and even more so when there are male/female politics going on. I’ve seen situations where a woman brings her boyfriend and the doctor is male, and the boyfriend and the doctor side with each other. It gets weird, so have somebody you can really trust, and if you have somebody who you can trust of your own gender, that can be really even more effective a lot of times.

Let your doctor know that you’re not trying to be a pain in the butt, but you’ve been doing some homework and you’ve got symptoms that are going on that you’re concerned about, and maybe they’ve even been dismissed before by that doctor or by someone else, and that you think that there are tests or a further examination that’s going to shed some light on what’s going to improve your health. Ultimately, that should be your doctor’s goal, and we all want to see our patients thrive with health and happiness, and we love having positive relationships with our patients, so try that tactic. Before you go in, think through what you’re asking for and why, what you’d like help with, and write down your key points in a notebook or on some index cards, and use this as a script when you go in for your appointment. It’ll help you stay focused and calm, and it’ll also help you feel more prepared and organized, and it’s going to help you look that way too, like you’ve given this a lot of thought and research.

At your appointment, it doesn’t hurt to let your doctor know that you respect her training and credential, and so you want her honest opinion and you want to rely on her knowledge, but that you really try to be the CEO of your own health and a more active partner in your healthcare – that you really welcome partnership and advice, and that you’d love to work collaboratively. If you feel like your practitioner is not listening or is condescending, if you’re unable to speak up because there’s a real power issue going on and you feel like you can’t take charge, then sometimes you might have to do the hard work of breaking up with your doctor. You deserve to be respected. If your doctor or any practitioner is insensitive, condescending, won’t listen, makes you feel small, invisible, unheard, insecure, or if you have to fight to get what you need, that’s not good medicine. It’s when mistakes get made. There are statistics showing that when doctors are hurried, they’re not paying attention. When they’re not making the effort to make good relationship, big important diagnoses get missed.

Finally, I just want to remind you that we have all been taught from the time that we were young girls to be polite, mind our manners, be good, don’t challenge authority, be respectful, be nice. I am urging you to own your inner bad girl. I’m not saying you have to be rude, but I am saying you have to be bold, clear, strong, and assertive.

If it’s hard for you, practice, but learn to do it. It might just save your life.

You can Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud

“We’ve learned somewhere along the line that voicing our real needs, expressing our dissatisfactions, our discomfort, our pain, is whining.” – Aviva Romm

Show Notes:

  • Why I’m bothered by the word “complaint” in medicine
  • Why women are more likely to be ignored when they speak up
  • Autoimmune diseases make up the top ten killers of women annually
  • Why doctors misdiagnose autoimmune diseases
  • The consequences of not acknowledging women’s concerns
  • Why the model of heart attacks is based on mens’ presentation

“Words like complaint reflect the bias of a system that belittles women.” – Aviva Romm

  • My own story about gender bias
  • Why you have to trust yourself and speak up
  • How citizen scientists can be great resources
  • Why you should bring an advocate with you to the doctor
  • How you can prepare for your doctors appointment
  • When it’s time to break up with your doctor

“Own your inner bad girl.” – Aviva Romm

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Holly

Aviva, I was in the middle writing a paper of how gender impacts health care access and experience. The things your write are accurate. I am a nurse midwife and have fallen victim to labeling patients as having physiologic stress or anxiety reactions myself. Do you have any advise or wisdom or tools for drilling down to the diagnosis when women present with a generalized constellation of concerns. I also loved your point on chief complaint!

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Kim

I love this episode Aviva ~ thank you!!

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Myriam

You are the bomb, Aviva Romm and the best bad girl advocate for women! Thanks for always sharing your wisdom and fearlessly speaking out!

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Shirley Alberty

I so much appreciate this article. I don't have a thyroid gland, have had a hysterectomy so I tend to tire very easily. This is one reason I became an herbalist. I now have a herbal tincture I take daily which really helps me. I an 67 and will be 68 in September. I volunteer for the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief and work on a chainsaw crew or go out with a feeding team. I do not have time to be tired when I am helping put out 4000 meals a day. I may be a Christian but I can still tell a doctor what I think. I have told more than one not treat me like a stupid male. They don't like, I don't care. I am truly blessed to do the things I do even with some of the physical problems I have. Thank you so much for caring.

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    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Shirley, What you are doing sounds AMAZING and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story with ALL of us! Love, Megan- Aviva Romm’s Executive Assistant and Online Nutrition Expert

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    angie

    Shirley, What is the tincture that you are taking? What does it consist of?

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Michelle

Thank you for sharing this Aviva, it is an important message. As a patient and as a health care clinician working in hospitals, I have seen the and felt the effects of the "difficult patient" label. Health Care is about both - Health and CARE. One has to actively listen to care.

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S

This information is spot on! My health deteriorated for 10 years while my doctor said, "You need to take antidepressants." Miraculously, I found a REAL doctor who actually listened to me and ordered numerous tests. Turns out that I was suffering with several serious health issues! She saved my life! Follow Aviva's advice if you want to live.

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Jennifer

Thank you Aviva for your email today. It came at the perfect time. I had woken up this morning frustrated regarding a medication I've been on for several months now that was supposed to help me, but has in fact only made my life more difficult instead. I didn't fully notice how much until I woke up angry this morning about struggling with these side effects. I had communicated my concerns with my doctor several times but kept being told to just wait and let the medication do it's work, but I can't wait anymore for something that isn't happening & I finally stood up for myself.

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Sarah

Aviva, Thank you for this post! I too am wading my way through the medical system to find out whats going on with my heart and my health. I believe that I am also dealing with electrical issues of the heart. I nearly blacked out at my sons birthday party after some bouncing in a bounce house. I also had nausea and extreme fatigue for a month after and lots of palpitations and muscle spasms etc. It's been a slow process, but I am now scheduled for a stress test and an echocardiogram. Anyways, this has been a daunting journey for my family and I and I WOULD LOVE LOVE LOVE TO HEAR WHICH HEART CONDITION YOU HAVE AND WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR IT! <3 If you've already written a blog about it please send me there! Thank you so much for being a light in the darkness and encouraging us to fight for own health! <3

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    Sarah

    Sorry, I meant to say echocardiogram not electrocardiogram. Also, I didn't mention, I was put on Ritalin from age 7 until age 14. By age 14 it made me feel so terriblly sick that I refused to take it anymore. I believe Ritalin may have damaged my heart or cardiovascular system in some way. Also at age 15 they put me on Seroquel. It was a number of months later that I had my first heart palpataions. I recently read that Seroquel was forced to list long QT syndrome as a potential side effect. I am now 31 and no one else in my family has had the issues I am having and I wonder if these drugs, especially taken during vulnerable years of physical development, are to blame for my current heart issues. It makes me so angry! It's a crime what drug companies are doing to our children and I believe my heart is paying for it.

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JoAnna

Thank you thank you thank you! I have been struggling to be heard for years and my husband was just in an appointment with me with two very nice but patronizing rheumatologists who said amongst other things, "it's probably nothing life threatening, maybe chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, but there's nothing you can do about those things, nobody really knows anything about them, and we recommend you stop searching because the search is toxic." Go home? Stop bothering the medical professionals with your "complaints"? Learn to live with it? And are you giving me a diagnosis or what? And if it's not your "realm" whose is it? None of the specialties will claim ME/CFS - and most primary care doctors (covered by insurance) have no idea what to do with me and send me away talking about stress and depression and getting more rest and exercise. I don't think my husband knew whether to believe them or me. Or how to help. And today I listened to your wonderful podcast validating my experience and I know it will help him to know where to stand. Thank you as always for your wonderful articles and podcasts.

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Rebecca Hill

Love this!!! Thanks so much for this blog subject. So so true. It's happened to me too many times and I now instruct my MD. I teach him. He still wants me on antidepressants but I told him NO. That they are bad and no one should be on them. Only very few, if any.

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Carl

Good article regarding 'How Medical Gender Bias is Killing Women and How to Save Your Own Life' Aviva, for us men we are dealing with 'How Medical Gender Bias In Cancer Research is Killing More Women than Men,' due to the much more funding and research efforts for breast cancer and the fact that men are dying of prostate cancer at a far higher rate than women are dying of breast cancer. Point being, that gender bias in medicine is not just a women's problem but cuts both directions. In many aspects the case for gender inequality in medicine is nothing more than a pick-n-choose any of a plethora of specific medical conditions to make the argument one way or the other for a gender bias in medicine. Problem is, it's not a matter of if more gender bias in one direction is more acceptable than in another direction, but that any gender bias is unacceptable, especially in the field of medicine! Regarding the subject posting, "Women’s Conditions are Marginalized; Women Having Heart Attacks are Ignored, Too," I take issue with the fact that using a site based death statistic to assert that somehow women are being gender biased against regarding heart attack care is not genuine as to the facts. The 15% of women compared to 10% of men who die in a hospital is not due to inadequate care or lack of attention to women heart attack sufferers compared to men but to the well researched fact that when a woman has a heart attack it is more decisive in a woman than in a man. This fact is considered by many in medical science to be due to the biological difference in how a woman's body, considering gender hormonal differences and intrinsic physiological effects of cardio trauma, manifests and is dealt with as a heart attack in a woman as compared to a man. This more decisive action of a heart attack upon a woman is the reason the hospital "statistic" shows more women dying in a hospital from a heart attack than men. It has nothing to do with gender bias in the emergency room or intensive care units or otherwise. It's a simple statistic that does not address underlying factors but only a death statistic and nothing more. And still, using statistics itself on the basis of a mere death statistic, much more men in America continue to die than do women of heart attacks, though admittedly that difference is closing, not due to gender bias in medicine but because more women have chosen to expose themselves to the very cardio stress inducing jobs and careers that were formerly the largely exclusive domain of men. Aviva, while I appreciate the work you have and are doing for women as regards their health and medical needs, especially from a natural and holistic perspective, and while I do believe there is gender biasing, that actually goes both directions (remember, the single white working male in America is now the most biased against, especially where Medicaid care is concerned compared to males of color and all women...), the resorting to mere statistics as the basis for asserting something that is much more complicated in its implications, being used in a highly overgeneralized manner is both insincere and feels somewhat deceptive to an underlying agenda that really is apart from the actual context of the subject matter being presented. FWIW

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Carl

The point in my posting that "for us men we are dealing with ‘How Medical Gender Bias In Cancer Research is Killing More Women than Men,’" should have read "for us men we are dealing with ‘How Medical Gender Bias In Cancer Research is Killing More Men than Women,’" Please make the correction accordingly. Thanks!

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Shelley

Great information! Thank you. I went in to the hospital for tests when I began having heart palpitations that really concerned me. After all the tests were done, they said there was nothing they could find wrong, but because I was having anxiety and digestive problems from worrying about it I was sent home with prescriptions for anti-depressants, IBS medication and acid reflux medication. I threw them all away and did my own research only to find out that heart palpitations are common in women going through peri-menopause.

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Linda Ciampoli

That was an awesome podcast. Thank you!

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Kelly

This is such an important topic I have shared it to my friends on Facebook and via email. Thank you for addressing this!

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    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Kelly, Thank you for the kind words AND for sharing!! Warm wishes, Megan- Aviva Romm’s Executive Assistant and Online Nutrition Expert

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Katharina

Much needed clarity! Especially on how awareness starts with the language...Thank you!

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Asha Taylor

This is a GREAT podcast making a point that I've been emphasizing in my circles for YEARS after having several of my own experiences with doctors. I have forwarded this to all the women I know. Now that I think about it, I will send to the men as well. Great show!

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Trisha

To Carl, As both a female and an RN as well, I disagree totally. Certainly any passive, dismissive and uninformed patient can be dismissed whether male or female. But I can assures you - women MORE than men are regularly, and tragically dismissed day in and day out! Avia has it RIGHT!

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Babs

Thanks for this article!! And in case it helps anyone (and sorry if someone already posted in the past about these...am new here and catching up on info ) - I really enjoy Dr. Joel Kahn's page as he is a cardiologist that talks about how to know if you have silent heart disease https://www.facebook.com/drjoelkahn/?fref=ts And he says "prevent don't stent" which is a lot more proactive that most docs now a days. I also like this site which has so many inspiring educational videos on healthy diet and recipes https://protectivediet.com/pd-ed?affiliate=186 (You can create free login or chose to get coaching/ classes and more recipes for a fee.) Check out her most recent free class about cancer and ordering hospital food. It is incredibly inspiring!!! Cheers

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Dr. Mat

Taking ownership of one's well-being is one of the keys to attaining and maintaining good health. Thank you for speaking out and showing women how to find their own voice and use it. Thank you for also sensitizing healthcare providers on the use of the term "main concern" instead of "chief complaint".

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Joy Herbst

Thank you Aviva for once again providing such thought provoking and inspiring blogs/podcasts for practitioners and all women. So much to say here; it's unfortunate that the most common recourse we have for women presenting with chest pain type symptoms is to work them up for CAD, particularly since women present with atypical physical symptoms when suffering from acute coronary syndrome, and better to be safe than sorry. However, when those tests come back negative for ACS or ischemia, then the practitioner is often flummoxed, or prescribes a PPI for indigestion. We NEED more time with patients, patients need to take back the power in managing their health, and then we need to work together, co-creatively, to find a plan that works (evaluating diet, exercise, 5 sense therapies) while sticking with coaching support to make for real, life changing improvements in symptom and disease management that decrease reliance on medications and surgery. I still work at YNHH part time "optimizing patients for surgery", but it is my part time work that I am dedicating my heart to, in hopes of helping women learn how to truly take care of themselves. It is my regret that the women that I work with must not use their insurance (except HSA) in order to have this care. This is so frustrating. We are so limited in our medical system in patient visit time spent in appts and that totally shoots us in the foot. I could go on, but it is so much to think about. Xox - Joy

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    Joy Herbst

    Whoops! I meant to say my "other part time work"....

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Marnie

Once again, you spit out a great article and I have to comment about an experience I had. When I was 32, I went to a Gynecologist who was around my age and one whom my mother had been going to and really liked. Sat down with her and told her my symptoms and told her I felt like I wasn't being taken seriously by the male doctor I had been seeing. I had 5 children at the time, my twins had been the last that I had birthed and were two years old at the time. I was having issues with my periods becoming longer or shorter, not the 28 day cycle that I had been accustomed to that had been clock work for most of my adult life. I was having "cold flashes" and irritability and depression. My former doctor said all my symptoms were depression related and wanted to put me on Paxil. I refused because I felt it was more than just depression. I have always been very "in tune" with my body and didn't feel like I was being listened to. This new LADY doctor really listened to what I had to say. She explained to me how most doctors only receive about 6 weeks of schooling when it comes to womens issues and hormones. She said they have to purposely go after more education in that area of study and that was what she did. She diagnosed me with being perimenopausal and would recommended Bio Identical hormones. I still get the eye roll whenever I tell Doctors or lay people that I am perimenopausal...I am told, "No way, you are too young." I had read, starting your period later, as I did, at the age of 14 can increase your chances of going through menopause at an earlier age than what may be normal. And starting your period at an early age say 10 or 11 can cause you to start menopause later. My grandmother was 16 when she got her first period and went through menopause when she was 43. I asked my doctor about the age of menses and what her thoughts were on it and she had read these studies as well and agreed. She made me feel like I was not an idiot and took me seriously. I felt like I had found exactly who I needed and to be taken seriously. She was so informative and didnt test me like most traditional doctors do. She chose the right time to do blood work and to check certain hormones at specific times of my cycle...EVERYONE is different and doctors need to wake up and realize that women and hormones are NOT all the same and stop treating us with anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants...those are just bandaids and not treating the real problem only adds to the suffering and the real kicker comes when we are told "its all in your head." If you ever hear that statement, run as fast as you can. If you know your body and you know something is not right, find someone who will listen. Dont be a victim.

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Sue Arnott

Thank you so much Aviva for clarifying what I have known in my heart for years and I am so glad you were able to get a diagnosis for your heart. Sadly, I have had many mis-diagnosis' over many years as I grew up with polio. I was lucky to heal enough in my adult years to be a personal trainer/medical exercise specialist/ fitness instructor for over 25 years. I knew I had severe hormonal issues and a depressed immunity for most of that time but was always ignored because I looked fit and well. Inside I knew much more was going on. One Dr even accused me of making my symptoms up to get attention!! He suggested I find other ways to feel good about myself!! By the time I was diagnosed (after 3 yrs of seeing several Dr's and being mis-diagnosed) with post polio syndrome, my heart arrythmias were so frequent and long lasting, I was constantly taking ambulance rides to the hospital. I was a mess and not one Doctor of the many I saw (all male) would listen. I finally decided to source a Dr who comes from a country where polio still existed at that time - India. He is amazing and very sensitive to women's health. My journey of self healing has cured all my symptoms and significantly improved those that cannot be cured. Your article is SO spot on Aviva and I thank you for speaking up. You are creating change...thank you and all the very best in your own health journey.

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Lesley Klopsch

Lesley thanks Aviva I have that very problem! I had a home invasion about8 years ago then 3 rd grade aggressive cancer a year or 2 after its.hard to know as I lost my memory! Now they keep wanting to put me on antidepressants I can get over things myself I am strong I have had bad pain under the bottom of my right ribs ! & I feel I may have dropped as I put on 16 kilo in under 2 moths after being so tiny all my life I find it hard to carry it seems to pull on my head I feel the fat move down my body when I stand! I get hot sweets before I need to go to do a wee! This is know how i need to go! It wakes me at least 3 times a night & I can't sleep! I am starting to get pain in the chest only now & again! I do get alderman pain! & now I am getting to the stage I don't want to be seen! At all! I look tired & pasty ( white ) all the time they have me on oxcy's 40- 40 slow release for the pain but I get a little dry & they stick to the tounge half way down so it makes my mouth go stiff & I can't talk! It feels like I haning out with hot & cold sweets all the time! Like it has not gone into the body only the mouth! I am seeing my pain doctor which seems to take more notice of me than my GP these days they won't give me a hisdorecttomey because they can not see in side of me! At 2 hospitals! After having only the one Brest. & all my limps modes removed! It scares me I was hard as a rock & set on one side before they even found I had Brest cancer! What can I say to my doctor tomorrow! Iam worried no one will take any notice of me! & the steel plates in my head & face are getting heavy! As I am getting older! How can I get them to make me well again Thanks Lesley from the Gold Coast Australia!

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Hope

I really appreciate your article. For someone whose never really been sick, I suffered two bad bouts of flu in October and November last year. Since then, I have suffered with sudden onset of asthma in January and then in February, shortness of breathe, fatigue, chest pains that radiate down my left arm and up my jaw along with a constant dull ache in the upper back region. Following an urgent referral in March I was advised by the attending cardiology specialist nurse that because the chest pains did not present excusivelty following exercise or exertion that she did not think these symptoms were related to my heart and that generally woman are not predisposed to heart attacks. This 'off the cuff' comment really angered me as I have lost two close female friends to heart attacks, both in their early forties. My supporting evidence for further investigating, a brother who had a heart attack and a grandfather who had angina. I did leave her office feeling completely marginalised. After a CT angio in May and catheter angiogram in July I was told it's not my heart. I am no closer to a diagnosis. I rarely talk about my symptoms anymore. I'm tired of the rolling eyes and huffs and sighs. I've been doing my best to soldier on whilst quietly chipping away at the doctors to carrying on testing. So thank you for your article, it's made me realise I'm not losing the plot.

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