After years of whispering in corners and secrecy, it seems like people are now talking much more openly about women’s health (to include people assigned female at birth). I am not sure why now, but I think it’s great.
I am not a women’s health specialist and the purpose of this post is to highlight some issues and signpost resources that may be helpful. I have also written posts on menopause and pelvic health with further links. The posts on pain science and patient experience of living with pain may be useful if you live with a condition such as pelvic pain or fibromyalgia.
Gynaecological issues often take years to diagnose. The symptoms can be quite vague and are often mistaken for digestive symptoms. If your periods are very heavy or painful (ie if they interfere with your daily life), please speak to your GP. Women often consider things to be “normal” when they are indications that there may be an underlying issue. Often imaging or keyhole surgery is required to confirm a diagnosis.
But it’s not just about periods and reproductive health. Women are twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s and they are more prone to brain tumours and strokes; the reasons why are not clear yet but Dr Lisa Misconi (see video below) is fascinating on the subject of the the female brain. She is a strong advocate for women’s health not being reduced to “bikini medicine”!
Although women in the UK live a little longer than men, women in the UK spend a greater proportion of their lives in ill health or disability compared with men and those statistics are getting worse. This is now being referred to as the “Gender Pain Gap”.
Women are more likely to have conditions such as fibromyalgia, long covid or migraine and to develop persistent pain. They are 50% more likely to receive a wrong initial diagnosis if they have a heart attack.
Why is this? Female bodies are different from male bodies and, historically, men are used in research trials because female bodies and hormones are deemed too complicated! As I write this (November 2022), it’s in the news that female footballers are more at risk of injury as they are wearing boots and heading footballs designed for men. If this is something you want to find out more about, then check out the book “Invisible Women” here.
I am sharing some of my favourite resources (on conditions, rather than my feminist ramblings) if you would like to delve deeper.
Dr Lisa Mosconi chats to Dr Chatterjee about how women can keep their brains functioning at maximum capacity.
Self-compassion is linked to better emotional, physical and mental health. Dr Kristin Neff writes specifically about self-compassion for women and how to silence your inner critic.
Woman’s Hour presenter, Emma Barnett, on infertility, IVF and endometriosis.
Dr Nitu Bajekal provides a wealth of clear information on women’s health issues and has written a book on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) with her daughter, Rohini.
Dr Anitra Mitra – the Gynae Geek – For “no nonsense information on ‘down-there’ healthcare”!
If you would like any further information or resources, or have any suggestions on how I could improve this blog, please let me know.
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