TW: sexual assault mention
Dealing with #Sexism in medicine has been so exhausting and frustrating, especially as someone with multiple chronic and mental illnesses. It devastates me that it’s become so hard to find a doctor who listens and is actually trying to help me and doesn’t try to convince me my severe pain/other physical symptoms are due to “stress” or a need for counseling when I’ve recieved therapy/psychiatric meds for years.
Almost a year ago I had a gynecologist, after an extremely painful pelvic exam (#vaginismus likely), who told me to work on controlling my facial expressions because “you’re acting like I’m raping you”. A few months later I was vomiting constantly and got an endoscopy to find out I had esophogitis/gastritis, and after my amazing mom asked if my psychiatric meds (#cymbalta and #lithium ) could be contributors he said “yeah we see that a lot”, when I already asked my psychiatrist to see if these meds could be cause for my #bladderpain and was told these meds could be helping me and to stay on them. To try and work on these problems (and other symptoms) I’ve seen several specialists, most of whom have said my symptoms were all due to stress and there was nothing they can do (and actually suggested increasing cymbalta), or they said “all medications have side effects”. My female practicioners have been just as disappointing, with many telling me I just “needed to wear more tampons” or have sex to help my vaginismus and pelvic pain.
I’m not anti-medical establishment, I’m willing to try new treatments/do what doctors say, and I do everything I can to be as assertive as possible, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Luckily I’m working with my wonderful GP to withdraw from cymbalta, someone who actually listens to me and recognizes I should have a say over my own healthcare. But I’m still so tired of feeling alone and frustrated by this pervasive sexism and dismissal by so many medical professionals. What hurts more is this sexism has existed for many, many years, and it doesn’t feel like I can do much beyond “be more assertive”. It’s also hard to find much support and mainstream coversge for these experiences.
I understand much more needs to be done to educate medical professionals about unlearning sexist practices, and there is an apalling lack of research on women’s health/gender differences in treatments, but I really think doctors can do WAY better than they have been. I care about my health, I’m a willing and informed patient, but women deserve so much more than what we’ve had to deal with since the beginning of medicine.