Women Feel Dismissed By Their Doctors — And It's A Huge Problem
Raising concerns to a doctor should be easy — it's what they're there for, after all. But many people find doctors intimidating or even feel dismissed by their doctor — and this can lead to them not getting the help they need or attempting to treat themselves, rather than seeking out professional help.
A new survey of 1,091 Europeans and Americans from Zavamed, the online prescription service, found that people feel like they're not getting what they need from their doctors. The survey found that 50 percent of respondents have felt dismissed by their doctor about general health concerns and 14 percent have felt dismissed about their sexual health concerns, specifically. Previous research from the University of Maryland showed that doctors take women's pain less seriously, and, as this new survey shows, women are more likely to have their concerns dismissed or to be treated like they don't know what they're talking about.
This is a huge problem, because it's so important to have an open, comfortable relationship with your doctor. "Can you talk to him openly and honestly?" bariatric surgeon Peter LePort, MD, tells Bustle. "Does she listen attentively to your questions? Does he answer your questions thoroughly? Do you believe she cares about your well-being? 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."
And yet, as this survey shows, many women — and men — are not feeling heard by their doctors. Here's what the survey found.
1. 62 Percent Of Women Have Felt Dismissed By A Male Doctor
Overall, 62 percent of women have felt dismissed by a male doctor about general health concerns, while only 42 percent of men found the same. That's still too many people, as everyone should feel heard by their doctor, but it's clear women don't as often. Women were also more likely to feel dismissed by a female doctor, with 47 percent of women reporting that it's happened to them, compared to 37 percent of men.
2. 1 In 5 Women Have Felt Dismissed By A Male Doctor About Sexual Health
When discussing sexual health specifically, 20 percent of women have felt dismissed by their male doctor about sexual health, compared to 9 percent of men.
3. 70 Percent Of People Have Sought A New Doctor
Many people have felt that their interaction with their doctor was so bad that they've actually gone out and sought a new one. In fact, 70 percent of respondents reported seeking out a new doctor after they were dismissed about their sexual health issues, while 60 percent found a new doctor after being dismissed about general health issues.
4. 14 Percent Of Women Were Treated Like They Didn't Know What They Were Talking About
As much as someone may want to respect a doctor's authority, most people don't want to be talked to as though they're ill-informed — especially about their own body. But 14 percent of women and 9 percent of men reported being spoken to like they had no idea what they were talking about, according to the survey.
5. Women Were Two Times More Likely To Take Their Sexual Health Into Their Own Hands
While both men and women reported taking their sexual health into their own hands if the doctor was dismissive, women were twice as likely do so. This can mean mistreating symptoms and, ultimately, more health problems — in addition to not receiving the treatment that's actually needed. Worryingly, three in four people attempted self-treatment after being dismissed by their doctor.
No one should feel like they're getting completely bulldozed by someone who doesn't take them or their pain seriously. It's clear from this survey that women in particular need to feel more heard by their doctors, especially in the delicate area of sexual health. Everyone deserves a comfortable, professional relationship with their doctor.