Under-diagnosis – A Challenge Faced By Women


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In the medical health sector, women have played an important role in its development. From research to manufacturing medicine and drugs, the contribution from women cannot be underestimated even though the educational criteria was heavily biased in the favor of men.

However, many argue that the current system is very different either. Around the world, women have to face extra challenges in securing admissions, getting funding for research as well as getting credit for it.

The most recent example to quote here is that of Tokyo Medical School who confessed about changing test results in order to take in more male students than the female.

In addition to this discrimination, women also feel sidelined in other parts of the medical health structure. For instance, female patients also find it hard to express their health-related issues to doctors or other health professionals.

Recently, many women have raised their voice over how the medical industry has a very apparent bias against women’s health issues. Men’s issues are almost always prioritized while women’s issues are diagnosed very late or not at all.

In fact, there are some conditions that many health professionals do not diagnose in women on purpose. There is statistical as well as anecdotal evidence on this matter. This is a serious subject and issue and all three of the problems are dangerous and may potentially lead to death if not diagnosed and treated on time.

Which Are the Conditions That Are Under-diagnosed in Women?

Following are some of the health issues that commonly affect women but are under-diagnosed at many times:

Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is among the leading causes of death worldwide in both men and women. However, research from the British Medical Journal shows that doctors are unable to diagnose the symptoms in women on time.

Why is this so? Usually, the signs of different kinds of coronary heart diseases vary. Additionally, they may also be different in men and women. Most health professionals are not aware of the symptoms in women such as chest burn and back pain.

There is also no effort to study the effects and symptoms in women. Therefore, the diagnosis of this condition in women is not as easy as it is in men.

Endometriosis

According to research from Fertility and Sterility, 10-15 percent of the women live with endometriosis. Though it is primarily a women’s issue, the patients may face a hard time in getting a professional diagnosis. This is particularly dangerous as the problem is progressive.

This means that it needs immediate medical attention to stop it from affecting other organs in the body. The condition already affects the quality of life and comes with immense pain and health-related issues.

Secondly, it may also affect social life and relationships are women living with endometriosis may also find it hard to engage in intercourse. According to the authors of the aforementioned paper, the diagnosis may also take up to 10-12 years while paving the way for severe health issues.

Hyperactivity/Attention Deficit Disorder

The problem with women’s health issues and diagnosis is not limited to physical health but also mental especially when it comes to behavioral disorders such as ADHD.

Research on this matter shows that there is a certain bias against girls and women when it comes to diagnosing the condition. Generally, boys and men get a diagnosis more often and earlier in comparison with females.

In addition, the chances of getting a diagnosis are even lower as an adult woman. The sources on the matter further show that in case of not getting a diagnosis, women tend to hide their symptom. In many cases, doctors are also more likely to give a diagnosis of mental disorder such as OCD rather than ADHD.

What Can Be Done?

Even though there is continued research on health problems and issues and more women are now a part of it, the conditions are still not any easier for women. The discrimination and bias in both the research sector as well as the clinical practice is actually really visible.

There needs to be more effort put into this matter in order to include more women to improve research as well as better understanding of women’s health issues to ensure they get a diagnosis on time.


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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Literature graduate with expertise in Creative Writing. Her writing interests are mental health, ethics, and news reporting. You will find her work associated with relevant research and references that shows her passion for delivering authentic information to readers.

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