Why You Should Go To Your Partner’s Doctor’s Appointments

Last updated: March 2020

My partner’s journey to diagnosis is not an uncommon one - it took 5 years to go from the first signs that something was wrong to being referred to a specialist and eventually receiving a laparoscopy. But this lengthy diagnosis time was not for lack of trying. She went to her GP frequently, reporting the symptoms, pain and challenges of this mystery illness, but it took a male voice to finally convince to doctor to take her seriously. She had her then-boyfriend to go with her to the appointment and tell the doctor the symptoms he had witnessed, and after years of misdiagnosed UTIs and screenings for STDs, the GP finally believed her enough to refer her to a specialist.

This is just one of countless similar stories. In fact, Abby Norman writes about her similar journey to diagnosis in Ask Me About My Uterus. She had been told repeatedly that she had a urinary tract infection, as had my partner, and it wasn’t until she went to an appointment with her boyfriend that she was taken seriously.

Gender discrimination with endo is REAL

This worrying phenomenon is referred to as the gender pain gap. Women are frequently less likely to have reports of pain taken seriously, less likely to be prescribed appropriate pain medication and as is common with endometriosis, less likely to receive a correct diagnosis. Many studies have been done into this phenomenon, for example showing that women in the emergency department who report having acute pain are less likely to be given opioid painkillers than men (1), or that women in emergency departments are less likely to be taken seriously than men.

How I stand-up for my partner

As the partner of someone with a chronic condition, I see the effects of it every day, and know how much it impacts my partner's quality of life. The idea that someone would think she was exaggerating or making it up is frustrating - the idea that a medical professional might do this is mind-boggling.

Attitudes regarding gender equality are changing for the better and the visibility of gender pain bias is increasing, but until we reach that promised land, it is important that the males in the lives of those with endometriosis advocate for them and are present in medical situations. Go to appointments with your partner, be there after surgeries and during recovery, and use your privileged voice to help them be taken seriously. By speaking up we can cut down diagnosis times, get our loved ones the treatment they deserve, and hopefully raise awareness of this bizarre and sad characteristic of the medical industry.

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