FIBROMYALGIA & SEXISM
Women suffer disproportionately from fibromyalgia. According to the CDC (1), it’s twice as common in women as it is in men.
The symptoms are complex, and there is no cure.
For these reasons, many patients and some doctors say that fibromyalgia is under-recognized and undertreated. I am convinced that there is sexism involved here… Society appears to feel free to dismiss the complaints of 30-to 50-year-old women and marginalize their experience. Yet if she were a man the same age she would be taken seriously. Often, sufferers are simple offered depression meds in an attempt to make them shut up and go away…no fun to fight with Dr’s when your experiencing fatigue and excruciating joint and muscle pain, plus brain fog (and probably quite a lot of other symptoms as well!)
Despite the suffering, there’s by no means a general consensus in the medical community that fibromyalgia is even a legitimate condition to this day! Its victims know different! This seems to be a global issue too. (2) Norwegian physicians ranking Fibromyalgia on two separate occasions in 2002 and 2014 as the disease with the lowest prestige of 38 low ranking conditions so nobody has been terribly interested in studying it or developing treatments for it.
It is viewed as a largely ‘female complaint’. (3) Reports of “Long Covid”, and how they have been received have been a revelation to many as symptoms are by and large the exact same as Fibromyalgia & CFS. Yet few are calling these sufferers out on their credibility. (4) Mainly I feel because a lot more men are being stuck down with Long Covid more severely than have been with Fibromyalgia despite the similarities or the condition. There is at least now some real hope that doctors are making the connection between Long-Covid and Fibro/CFS and will stop treating (Mostly) female sufferers as if it’s all just in their head. Long-Covid research is being viewed with prestige, therefore Long-Covid research could well result in a greater understanding of Fibromyalgia and CFS too.
Perhaps women won’t be so easily dismissed then…
I have personally suffered sexism in my medical care, for my Fibromyalgia/CFS and over gyne issues. Let me tell you about one of my worst experiences. I also have PCO’s adenomyosis and endometriosis. (very common in women with fibro too but I will talk about that another time…) My experience of being sent off to see a Gyne to get checked.
Now, ladies, it was just like having a smear test, to begin with, then I felt a sudden searing pain that made me let out a loud yelp! I automatically tried to get up and felt like I wanted to be sick. The gyne said – “Oh, you felt that, did you? I decided to take a biopsy while you were here, you shouldn’t really have felt any pain, the womb has no nerve endings. Interesting”. Without warning, pain relief or thought, he had decided to ‘cut’ a sample of tissue out of my womb. I was in searing pain and shock. Could barely speak and didn’t know what to say in any case! As I walked out of that office, every step I felt more and more pain. By the time I got into my car, I had just burst into tears.
Desperately wanting to get away, but I couldn’t drive for 20 minutes. It was a 30-minute drive home and by the time I got home, I was shaking uncontrollably.
My partner asked what happened and called our GP for advice. Our GP asked a lot of questions such as “surely he gave you an anaesthetic injection? No? Are you sure he didn’t?” Apparently, I should have been given pain meds an hour before and an anaesthetic injection before the procedure which shouldn’t have been done in any case without my knowledge or signed consent. As that was not done, my body had gone into shock. It is certainly not true that you can’t be in pain due to a lack of nerve endings in the womb before a biopsy is taken! I spent 3 days in bed (missing work) shaking and bleeding afterwards. My GP emailed him to complain and got a curt response that went something like this…
Women don’t normally feel this, never had a complaint before, some women are just overly sensitive. No apology, no explanation as to why he had done a biopsy without my knowledge or consent either! He is the main specialist in my area, the head honcho. I obviously have never agreed to see him again, but now have to go through an argument at my GP’s and insist on going out of the area if I ever need to see a gyne!
Thankfully, I am now chronic pain-free!
If you would like help with getting chronic pain free, please get in contact.
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