Given that men and women are the same species, it’s natural to expect that their health needs are the same. If you have previously thought this to be true, you’re not alone; many health experts aren’t as aware as they should be about how men and women differ. And — as we’ll soon discuss — this can lead to terrible consequences.
The reality is that though men and women are the same species, their healthcare needs can be hugely different. This is the true reality of biology. Different hormones, different organs— the two sexes are very separate from one another, with differing needs and requirements to ensure they’re able to get the most out of life.
Understanding the way that healthcare differs for men and women is extremely important for you and your partner. What’s right for one of you might not be for the other; you have different experiences, expectations, and healthcare needs. Below, let’s investigate the different ways in which healthcare requirements can differ between men and women– and how you can apply this knowledge to your own life.
Women Are More Likely To Have Their Physical Pain Ignored Than Men Are
There’s a lot of discussion in the medical community as to why this is, but it’s a simple fact that studies confirm again and again: medical professionals don’t take women’s pain as seriously as they do men’s. There are countless stories which detail how this problem can impact healthcare treatment, some of which have truly tragic consequences.
Worryingly, while this issue is known, no one is entirely sure of the solution to it. One of the most-suggested solutions is for more female physicians, but female physicians are just as likely to underestimate women’s pain as their male counterparts. Some have suggested this all leads back to the old stereotype that women are “hysterical” and thus can’t be trusted to judge the severity of their own pain– a truly outdated idea with no basis in fact, but one that has serious implications.
If you find yourself in pain, then don’t hold back on the description– be honest. Explain what hurts, how much it hurts, and how it is impacting your ability to lead a normal life. If you’re not happy with how a doctor responds, then seek a second opinion, and a third if necessary too.
Men Are More Likely To Have Their Mental Pain Ignored Than Women Are
This issue is predominantly societal; it comes from the assertion that men should be “strong” and “capable”. As a result, men find that their mental health is often overlooked by medical professionals– they are just expected to be able to deal with it.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to be diagnosed and to receive treatment for mental health conditions. Some of this discrepancy is due to women being more likely to suffer from conditions such as anxiety, but this isn’t enough of a difference to explain the diagnosis rates.
The lack of diagnosis has real, serious consequences. Male suicide has been labeled a “silent epidemic”, with studies showing men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women– in some parts of the globe, this discrepancy is even higher. If men are not receiving diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as depression, it’s reasonable to conclude that this is influencing the abnormally high likelihood of male suicide.
If your partner is suffering from mental issues such as stress or depression, then encourage him to talk to you about them, and — ideally — a mental health professional. As with the physical pain issue for women, if you don’t receive a satisfactory response from the first doctor, then move on to a second opinion.
There Are More Screening Tests For Women Compared To Men
Screening tests are tests which are performed to try and identify potential health concerns before they become truly problematic. The most common for women is the PAP smear, which most women are encouraged to have at least once every three years after the age of 25.
This is not the only screening test available to women, however. If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you can be screened to see if you carry recessive genes. A high profile example of this testing was provided by Angelina Jolie. Jolie underwent genetic screening and discovered her likelihood of breast cancer was very high, leading to her making the decision to undergo a mastectomy as reported by EOnline.com.
Furthermore, women are encouraged to have mammograms on a regular basis over the age of 50 (though this does vary between countries). So, overall, women have three types of testing — dependant on their age — that can help identify serious problems with their health.
Men, on the other hand, are not so lucky. Women have access to screening tests for female-specific problems related to female hormones; breasts and cervical cancers. For men, the same theory applies; they are screened for the male-specific condition of prostate cancer. It’s fair to say that men don’t appreciate a prostate exam, but it is necessary to identify the signs of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is common in men, but also treatable; you can learn about Comprehensive-Urology.com if this is an area you’re less familiar with. It’s also worth encouraging your partner to be screened on a regular basis, especially if he’s over the age of 45.
However, prostate aside, there are few other screening tests that men are eligible for. Screening tests for bowel cancer are offered in some countries, but it’s fair to say that they are far from commonplace at the present time.
As a result of the lack of screening tests available to them, it could be argued that men have to be more vigilant about their own health than women are. On the flipside of the argument, women have more to need screening for– so the situation, arguably, evens out.
Symptoms Of Various Illnesses Are Very Different For Men And Women
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
Off the top of your head, you’re probably imagining a scene that is something like this:
A person is standing upright, focusing on a task. Suddenly, they begin to sweat. They clutch their hand over the left-side of their chest, their face clearing contorting with intense pain. They fall to the ground, calling for help, writhing in agony.
This is the way that heart attacks have been depicted by TV and movies for years… and it’s almost entirely incorrect for both genders. Heart attacks are rarely “lightning bolt” type events; they build slowly, becoming more severe. It’s even possible to have a heart attack and not even realize you had one; a fact that applies to both genders.
However, the main symptoms — pain in the left side of the chest, pain in the left arm — are decent indicators of heart problems… if you’re male. The symptoms of a heart attack for women are very different indeed; they also tend to be milder. There’s plenty of evidence to show how heart complications are different for men and women yet huge numbers in the medical community are unaware of how heart problems manifest differently between the sexes.
It’s not just heart attacks that suffer from this problem. Many health conditions have well-known symptoms that actually aren’t remotely relevant to what women might experience. What’s more, it’s not just the general populace who can be misinformed about this; many medical professionals aren’t aware of the difference between male and female symptoms so they may dismiss symptoms. This is a well-known issue that applies across a range of conditions, however, it’s tough to identify when it’s happening to you.
The only option for women to cope with this is to never just accept a non-diagnosis. If you believe you have a health condition, then push until you receive appropriate medical attention. Encourage your doctors to think outside the box and don’t be afraid to question them; if women don’t speak out to correct these anomalies in healthcare, then nothing is going to change.
Understanding the differences in male and female health conditions is incredibly important. We’re all different, but the differences between the sexes are stark. Both genders need to be able to advocate for themselves, especially if they are experiencing a health condition that is seen as “uncommon” to their gender– for example, mental health problems for men, or cardiac issues for women.
The key to moving past these issues is being willing to question any health advice you receive. A doctor should never be dismissive or annoyed when you ask for further information; in fact, if they are, then it’s probably a sign you’re going to want to look for another medic anyway. Many people accept what they are told, and as a result, continue to live with health complaints and difficulties that are treatable– if you can get access to the treatment.
So speak up, warn your partner to do the same, and your family should be able to get the healthcare that you deserve.
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2 thoughts on “Health: The Differences For Men And Women”
Very interesting and informative!
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Thank you Malcolm