Multiple Sclerosis Community
9.17k Members
572651 tn?1531002957

Are women dismissed more than men?

Hello everyone,

As I read the comments of yet another one of us being sent away, being told that everything is ok when you know darn well its not, I am reminded of all my heart sisters and a question comes to mind.  

So many women with heart symptoms are told it's in their head, and it often takes a catastrophic event (like a heart attack or even death!) to get the docs to listen and believe that something is wrong.  Men with chest pains get looked at entirely different than women.

MS patients sound so much the same with being dismissed   - has anyone ever looked at the diagnosis numbers of men vs women?

I'm just wondering if the ongoing problem of discounting women as hysterical and overreacting applies here as well?  Are men routinely dx'd on less "evidence" than women?  If anyone has any insight or theories, I would love to hear them!

As always,
18 Responses
488264 tn?1226523907
Don't do this to me Laura, don't get me started......you want a 1000 page dissertation?
Avatar universal
As a data point of imperical evidence, I'd hold myself up as a man who has been treated like an moron by 2 of the 3 neuro's I've seen in the last 7 years.   I have a fairly extensive knowledge of science and the human body and an MBA from Wake Forest, so, it's not like I just fell off the turnip truck.

N2 (neuro #2) and number two he was, in the most basic sense, said, after hearing what I had to say "I guess we ought to take you out back and shoot ya" and "most of the people with your story, I would say they are faking" but he gave me some credit for having gone to Wake, since this was in Winston-Salem, where N2 happened to be.   What a piece of work this guy was.

Anyway, I would say that most of these non-MS specialists don't get it unless somebody points out a bunch of lesions for them.   Goofballs.

On a side note, I had a PCP (who obviously only attended the cliff-notes version of Med school) tell me that MS was only for women.

Frightening stuff.

``Mozart (opera-wise) rocketh also!``

572651 tn?1531002957
Hi Richard, Yes I know we have a few of you fine men out here with us being shuffled around (I can think of Craig too having such trouble with dx), but I'm just wondering if as a generalization my thoughts might be true.  But then you hit a good point of it being "a woman's disease"  :-)  So Mozart rocks along with Verdi? yep!!!

Wish, I've read just enough of your posts that I think I can guess the tone of your reponse, but I'm interested in a lively thought provoking discussion, so bring it on if you want and if you have the time. I have just gotten back from being at the hospital with my 85 y/o mom who fell today and broke her femur bone - the doctors there already have me riled. By the time they get her to surgery tomorrow I should really be ready to rip some doctors some new ones.  See Wish, I have been paying attention to you!! ha ha  

I just know the world we try to function in is still male dominated -and the medical world even more so.  
378497 tn?1232147185
Yes, women are more likely to have nonspecific--or hell, even specific--symptoms attributed to "emotion," "stress," "anxiety," "worry," "depression," etc. and to be dismissed and have a delay in an accurate diagnosis.

Avatar universal

Puccini, Donizetti and Strauss Jr. too!  :-)


I have emotions, but only during FSU games!  :-)   That's when I pull out my foam "Back Call Brick" and throw it at the television!  :-)   Case in point, this last Saturday!

Worry, anxiety, I don't do much of that, but I have had depression from hell, since 2005.  I guess its a neuro-induced thing for me.   Although, for me it has been so much serotonin or norepinephrine as much as its been a need for dopamine.   When I am not getting a stimulant of some kind, my brain, mood, motivation come to a complete stop.

It all started in 2005.

Avatar universal
Yep, I think women are considered too emotional.  Thus depression, anxiety, stress is considered before any real diagnosis.  Well excuuuuuse me for having feelings!

I almost told my neuro the only stress in my life was him.

Sally  :)
Avatar universal
I guess I told my neuro (N3) sort of the same thing since I yelled at him for being too chipper that my nerve conduction tests were normal...  :-)

428506 tn?1296560999
Like Wish, I too will tie my hands and not go too deep into this, but I have one comment I'd like to make.

It may well be true that overall there is a larger percentage of women who are dismissed or told that their sx are of emotional origin.

However, from the many testimonies I've read here and elsewhere, NO ONE is safe from this type of treatment.  I mean that regardless of gender, age, position in life, income, education, geography, or any parameter or demographic, it can happen.  

Consider that our forum leader is an MD, and as her (very eye-opening) journal entry notes, she went through quite a lot in order to get diagnosed.  

We have many other forum members that also demonstrate how even those who you think would be "immune" to dismissal are in fact turned away by doctors and told "it's all in your head."  

So while us ladies may again be getting the short end of the stick, I think it is amazing to note the variety of people who share their story about being treated this way.

Wonko out! :-)
198419 tn?1360245956
I too think women are dismissed very often.  But, as we know, it absolutely happens to men.

I also think that there is a lot of advertisement where women's health is concerned, warning signs, commercials, etc., however, when you finally decide to go to the Dr. for it to get a good check, it's as if they've not been see the ads, read the articles, etc., (especially where the heart is concerned).  I don't understand it, but it does seem disproportionate to me.  

Why is this? Do we not describe symptoms very good? Men are more straight to the point? Men may say "my chest hurts." Women may say, "I feel a little pressure in my chest, and then my arm has been hurting, and I feel like I have indigestion sometimes."

Is it that we've dealt w/certain things for so long (monthly stuff) and when we describe the problems we justify particular issues right off the bat and shoot ourselves in the foot?  Like TMI (too much information)  I just don't know, but I've found myself having difficulty describing symptoms.  And wondering if some have this same problem.So, just throwing that out there as food for thought and discussion.  A good Dr. with good questioning can get to the bottom of it, order the right tests, if they are gracious enough to do it.

428506 tn?1296560999
I was all fired up on my morning coffee and didn't read all the replies that pointed out the univeral span of this problem, in words better than mine!

I think Shell is right: a good Dr. should be able to get to the bottom of it (whatever "it" is!).  I know myself, and others here, put a lot of burden on themselves:  "Did I describe that sx well?  Did I say too much or too little about this or that?"  

The comment Shell makes about ads directed at women is also interesting.  Are women dismissed more because doctors figure we just saw too many ads about medications and diseases while watching Lifetime?

I just hope that we all find our way to good doctors, but yikes!  It seems like such a difficult path for so many of us!

378497 tn?1232147185
I'm talking about studies looking into this issue. RSD/CRPS1 is a good example. Of course men also get this treatment, but the question was whether or not this happens more frequently with women, and it does. It's rooted in the assumption that women are "hysterics," dating back a long-*** time.

For the record, there are studies that indicate that when it comes to emotions, men are more likely to exhibit them and to extremes than are women. But there are also studies showing that women process memory formation and emotion through the same brain centers, leading to better recall of events because of the link to emotion. Those of us who teach--especially if we teach biology!--know that coupling emotion and learning is one of the best ways to help students retain information. Of course, we try to make them laugh, not cry, as they learn. Emotion linked to information/experience = better retention.

Anyway...that women are more "emotional" than men is somewhat of a myth developed by, guess who? Depends on the emotion, for one thing, and the level of intensity under consideration.

572651 tn?1531002957
Well crafted responses - I think about this quite often.  And don't even get me started on how elderly people get treated compared to a younger population of patients.

I do appreciate Bio's observation about men being more emotional than women.  

Keep kicking it around - I'll jeeo pondering the big question.
Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
987762 tn?1331031553
5265383 tn?1483811956
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
1780921 tn?1499305393
Queen Creek, AZ
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease