7 Things No Woman Has To Accept From Her Doctor
If the lack of research on women's health issues doesn't infuriate you already, the way women are treated by doctors will. Women with abdominal pain have to wait longer in the ER than men to receive painkillers, and women are more likely to die of heart attacks when their ER doctors are male (which is usually the case). In addition, women hear many rude, judgmental, and downright dismissive comments from their doctors.
That's why it's so important to find a doctor who has good bedside manner as well as medical qualifications. Bariatric surgeon Peter LePort, MD suggests asking yourself questions like, "Can you talk to him openly and honestly? Does she listen attentively to your questions? Does he answer your questions thoroughly? Do you believe she cares about your well-being?" he tells Bustle. "If [they] do not check all of these boxes, it is time for you to find another doctor. These may seem like questions that belong in the 'warm and fuzzy' category, but they're no less important than those you have about a doctor's skill and outcomes."
Here are some things woman often put up with from doctors but should never have to. If your doctor exhibits these qualities, you should not feel bad about looking for a new one.
1. Patient Blaming
If a doctor cannot figure out what caused your illness, they may point toward your own behavior. This is hurtful and inappropriate. It's bad enough to be sick; the last thing you need is to also carry the shame of believing it's your fault. It rarely is.
Even if there is something you might have done differently to prevent your illness, you obviously didn't know, or you would have done it. Your doctor should approach this question with compassion and with the understanding that you're probably already feeling bad about it. Any commentary on your behavior should focus on what you can do to get better in the future, not what you've potentially done wrong in the past.
2. Body Shaming
One particular kind of patient-blaming is making a patient feel as if they're experiencing health issues due to their weight. People classified as overweight often experience this when coming to doctors with completely unrelated problems. Again, weight is often not the issue because people can be healthy at all sizes, and if it is, doctors need to understand that being overweight is not a moral failing, and losing weight is often difficult for various physical, emotional, and economic reasons.
Furthermore, no doctor should be commenting on a patient's body shape or size if it's not directly related to their health. Any statements about your appearance are crossing a boundary.
There's an epidemic of doctors gaslighting women by telling them their symptoms are in their heads, are coming from anxiety, depression, or "hysteria," or aren't as big a deal the patient is making them. This is especially common with invisible, poorly understood, and predominantly female conditions like endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and chronic Lyme disease.
More often than not, the women reporting these health problems are completely right that there is something off with their bodies. You've been living in your body your whole life, so you know what's normal and what's not. Don't let your doctor tell you you're OK when your body says otherwise.
4. Not Listening
When you entrust someone with something as important as your physical health, you need to feel like they're looking out for your best interests — and it's hard to feel that way if they're saying inaccurate things about your case, asking you questions you already answered, or rushing you out before you've explained everything going on.
Yes, doctors are pressed on time, but if your doctor is so rushed that they cannot take the time to understand your situation, they won't be able to help you.
Your doctor spent years in medical school and residency, and that's worth a lot. But so is all the time you've spent living with the condition you're seeing them for. Your relationship with your doctor should be collaborative. It's your body, after all, and nobody's medical degree gives them the right to talk down to you.
In order for your doctor to have as much information as possible, you should feel comfortable telling them about sensitive things like mental health, sexual behavior, and drug use. You can't do that if they judge you for your choices. While it is their job to inform you of how your decisions may affect your health, they should respect your right to make these decisions and not make assumptions about you based on them.
If a health issue is of concern to you, your doctor should take it seriously. Even if test results don't reveal anything, a symptom alone warrants treatment if it is interfering with your life. If you don't feel OK, you're not OK. You should not have to fight for your health concerns to be heard.
To find the right doctor for you, you can start off by asking friends and family for recommendations and reading online reviews. And if they're not giving you what you need, don't be afraid to find a new one. The right doctor can change your life.