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Female medical pain – are your doctors doing enough?

Female medical pain is a serious matter.

Doctors taking reports of  medical pain symptoms less seriously in women than in men has recently been in the media.

An article by the Daily Mail click here reports on a worrying trend that female patients are taken less seriously than men.  Reports of failing to take notice or refer for tests or opinions are widespread.This attitude is leaving many women to suffer unnecessary  and prolonged pain and future problems.

The article dealt with cases relating to patients suffering from cluster headaches, endometriosis and lupus, an autoimmune disease. At Corries we act for females who have experienced the same problems.

The law

The position in UK law is that any medical treating doctor has to act reasonably. This is judged to be in accordance with his or her peers following good practice. The common test is – what would  9/10 doctors do with the same patient?

However the case studies and our own experience sadly show that doctors can be too quick to dismiss female patients concerns. This can have serious consequences.

Corries – a case study

From around 18 years old Miss T suffered very heavy periods. She had bleeding sometimes continuing for months. She experienced severe pain and bleeding during sexual intercourse.  These symptoms had a significant impact on Miss T’s mental well-being. Miss T attended her GP surgery on many occasions for advice.  She was prescribed various birth control pills. These did not solve the problems of the pain and bleeding.

When she was 22 years old Miss T was referred to the hospital by her GP. It was planned for her to be seen in the Endometriosis Clinic.  However, when she attended hospital Miss T was faced with a rude male doctor who told her she had been booked in the wrong clinic (Uro-gynaecological Clinic). This doctor was dismissive of her symptoms. He did not even undertake a physical examination.  The doctor simply prescribed a different type of contraceptive pill; one which Miss T had previously tried and which had caused her headaches.

Miss T’s symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding, pain and bleeding during sexual intercourse continued. Her self-esteem suffered further.

By the time she was 25 years old, having suffered symptoms for around 7 years, Miss T did some research online and self-diagnosed with endometriosis.  She re-attended her GP and asked for re-referral to the hospital.  Finally she was offered a laparoscopy procedure. During this some endometriosis deposits were removed, and following this procedure Miss T’s symptoms got better.

The hospital admitted fault on behalf of the male doctor in failing to undertake a physical examination of Miss T when she was first referred for investigations. The claim settled out of court with paid damages to Miss T.

Pain Issues

In our experience pain from various physical complaints can be overlooked.

female medical pain
female medical pain can be overlooked

Headache Issues

Various pains such as headache can be thought difficult to assess and accept. One such condition is cluster headaches. This is a condition which is nearly as common in women as men. Yet for many doctors old research suggesting the ratio of men to women suffering was 18:1 means many females are not considered to be suffering with this condition.  New research shows it is nearer 2:1.

Hopefully more women may be able to investigate treatment for this much earlier.


Many women silently suffer with endometriosis which occurs when womb like tissue starts to grow elsewhere in the body.

In September 2017 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued new guidelines. This warned the medical profession to revise their approach to women with that condition.

Chest pain

An alarming number of women report that chest pain symptoms are not picked up by doctors which would otherwise result in treatment for men.

Previous studies in 1991 considered pain treatment. This study found that doctors were much less likely to refer women for tests when they presented with chest pain compared to men.  Even now 30 years later in 2016 studies show doctors were twice as likely to ignore pain symptoms in women having a heart attack than men.

Other medical conditions – a broader problem?

This disregard of female symptom reporting is also reflected in studies since 2008 which shows emergency medicine doctors take a different approach to male of female patients with stomach disorders.

In addition orthopaedic surgeons put in place tougher criteria for women before hip or knee surgery. This often means that they are late to get such surgery and suffer a longer recovery period.

Better at talking?

Another common myth is that women generally are thought to be better at expressing the pain and extending this to the doctor. In tandem is the perception of reluctance by men to explain their symptoms. This may lead to doctors seeing this as masking true problems and making them more inclined to refer for treatment.

What you should do?

If you are not satisfied with the treatment that you are receiving from your GP you can act. You should ask for a second opinion from another G.P within the practice. If this is refused then make a formal complaint and ask for to be dealt with in accordance with the charter.

In most cases the practice will seek to deal with this and resolve matters with you. If this does not work and you do not get the referral you seek then we refer you to the guidance here

If you are not content then you should research your condition.  Finding out more about your symptoms and considering the diagnosis which can be eliminated should be considered.  Whilst no doctor would thank you for an armchair “Google” diagnosis, a careful review of your symptoms may help clear a pathway for further referral or test. This was the case with our client – it might well be the case for you.

Corries – how we can help you

Corries have a committed and dedicated female team of lawyers dealing with medical claims.  If you feel that your condition was not addressed, treated or has been left to cause further damage then contact us. We can only help if you have been treated in the last three years. See our team page here

Call our female only team NOW for FREE confidential advice on 0800 881 5103.



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