Why Women's Stories are so Critical

I started this blog a few months ago with the mission of allowing women who have been dismissed by doctors to share their story. I also want to post studies of medical sexism and interview experts in this field (and I have some great interviews in the works, including a Professor of Medicine at Yale Medical School), but I wanted to take a moment to explain why your stories are so important.

Scientific data has proven for decades that women are being discriminated against by doctors. The book Outrageous Practices: How Gender Bias Threatens Women’s Health was written over 20 years ago, and much of what is described in its pages is applicable today with no editing needed. Women’s health complaints are often derided by doctors or chalked up to some sort of mental illness whether it be hypochondria, somatization, or malingering. Instead of doing the testing necessary to find out what is causing women’s symptoms, doctors are far too quick to label their patients crazy and move on.

So if this has been happening for decades (centuries, really), why would it change now? Well, it won’t without women's voices being heard. People become emotionally moved by an issue not by facts and figures, but by stories. We need to make it clear to the medical profession that this isn’t one or ten or even a hundred women that this is happening to. This is the way that virtually all women are treated by doctors, and women's well being is suffering because of it. So, really, without your stories, I have nothing.

Moreover, it’s important for you to share your story. It can be so disempowering to be told by doctors that your very real symptoms are being brought on by yourself. It is so frustrating to be sick and want nothing more than to be helped, when all you get is judgment.

I’ve had woman after woman email me telling me that they have a story to tell. So please tell it! Click on the “Share Your Story” link at the top of the page and submit your story. You don't need a resolution to your medical complaint. You don't need to know for sure that the doctor mistreated you because of sexism. If you've felt dismissed by a doctor when you were suffering from very real medical symptoms (even if you never did learn what was causing them), I want to hear about it. I know once we get the ball rolling, there will be an avalanche of stories, but I need the first dozen or so to get going.

Also, whether you have a story to share or not, please share this website with your friends. Are you part of a chronic illness support group? Share this website with them. Do you tweet about your chronic illness? Please, tweet this link. Do you blog about your illness? I'd love to do an interview for your blog! I’m working my butt off, but without you, there's no way I can make this website a success.