The Doctor Doesn’t Listen to Her. But the Media Is Starting To., The Atlantic

The problem is all in her head. The Atlantic’s August 10, 2018 article (9 minute read), “The Doctor Doesn’t Listen to Her. But the Media Is Starting To”, by Ashley Fetters draws attention to a North American healthcare model that forces women to repeatedly advocate for themselves to be heard. In Canada, seeing a general family practitioner is famously costless, but overworked doctors lack the necessary time for patient diagnostic work. Pressured to prescribe by financially influential pharmaceutical companies, they often miss what the sick person is telling them. This trend is exacerbated for women whose reproductive health issues are commonly dismissed.

“They follow an ominous three-act structure, in which a woman expresses concern about a sexual or reproductive issue to a doctor; the doctor demurs; later, after either an obstacle course of doctor visits or a nightmare scenario coming to life, a physician at last acknowledges her pain was real and present the whole time.”

Natural health options like holistic nutrition, herbal remedies and traditional practices offer women a refuge and a space to take matters into their own hands when conventional paths don’t. However, when faced with championing her own health, cost can become the barrier that lands a woman in the publicly funded doctor’s office.

“Netflix’s documentary, The Bleeding Edge, functions as an indictment of carelessness toward women’s health at the regulatory-body level. Three of the four primary narratives are about medical devices hastily approved by the FDA and marketed to women as safe, easy solutions for fertility- and childbirth-related issues.”

Devices vilified in The Bleeding Edge, like the Essure birth control implant, were also approved by Health Canada and recommended for Canadian women who were told it was a viable and safe option for their birth control needs.

Women are too often victims of gaslighting within the healthcare system but all Canadians, both women and men equally, who advocate for natural treatment options and oppose Health Canada’s tightening regulations, suffer from similar healthcare gaslighting when we are frequently told to question our personal realities around choosing “alternative” medicine.

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