A recent survey of British women reveals that healthcare professionals are not paying enough attention to women's reproductive health concerns and the results have proven to be far more dangerous for women than we have been led to believe
You may be familiar with the infamous phrase "Pink tax" which emerged in recent years as consumer reports discovered a significant disparity between the price of items marketed towards women as opposed to men. Every woman has seen it, the price of "female" products from clothing to personal care items marked up to a much higher price than the same items labelled and repackaged for men. However, the unfortunate reality of this concept exists on a much larger scale than toiletries–it is deeply rooted in the core of women's reproductive health which leaves women in a worse situation physically, financially and emotionally. To put evidence of "Pink Tax" in more real-world terms, specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp and consultant gynecologist Dr. Anne Henderson conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits to find out the extent at which women are more disadvantaged. The study looked at four main factors when it came to reproductive health: how much women spend monetarily, the amount of time spent, the rate at which their issues remained unresolved and the emotional toll it took. Women spend more money on healthcare than men Basic healthcare products and medications are far from cheap, but for women, who typically require more products on a consistent basis, the costs are significantly greater than what men spend– 30% more, to be exact. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study revealed that women in Britain spend £45 more per year than men on sanitary products, incontinence products, painkillers, anti-sickness and intimate hygiene products. In total, that leaves women dishing out £372.36 per year on healthcare. Not only are women spending more on healthcare products, but younger women have to spend more money than women over the age of 55 whose purchases typically focus on incontinence products as well as products related to menopause. On average, women between the age of 16-24 spend roughly £10-15 per month whereas women between the ages of 25-34 spend an average of £15-20 per month. Women make more reoccurring doctor visits Not only is reproductive healthcare costing women their hard-earned dollars, but it requires a huge sacrifice in time and effort to make repeated visits to the doctor's office. Approximately 235,000 British women have admitted to going to the doctor more than 10 times in the past year whereas no such statistic exists for men. What makes this issue all the more frustrating is the level of difficulty that exists in merely securing an appointment. Dr. Henderson stated, "Accessibility to primary care is without doubt one of the leading problems facing women and men when it comes to health; partially due to cuts to the NHS. Women continuously cite lack of flexible access to appointments is a major issue to getting their reproductive issues seen to promptly." As women continue to prioritize work and family related responsibilities, the window of opportunity needed to secure and follow through with appointments has been slowly diminishing as time passes.Women's healthcare issues are often unresolved In addition to the taxing ordeal of getting an appointment within the timeframe most suited to women's individual needs, the amount of women who are left with unresolved medical issues is far greater than some would suspect. Women not only visit the doctor more often than men, but also cease treatment despite having their issues unresolved. Approximately 476,000 British women have gone back to their doctor more than 11 times due to their doctor's inability to resolve the issue after the first visit and 22% reported having stopped their medical treatment altogether. You may be asking why women have been giving up on seeking treatment for health-related issues and the answer is simply because of the lack of knowledge, education and understanding that medical professionals have when it comes to catering to female reproductive health. Roughly 4 million women stated that they have no one to talk to about their reproductive health, 14% of which also find it difficult to even speak to doctors. Dr. Henderson admits that while patients still trust their doctors, that trust is far less than it was 20 years ago. "For many GPs, training in reproductive health is rudimentary; their only knowledge tends to be theoretical," says Dr. Henderson. Patients also prefer to turn to social media and the internet for answers to their health-related questions which not only diminishes the need to visit the doctor in the eyes of some, but patients now feel more well equipped to question their doctors diagnosis and treatment.The Emotional Cost The exhausting dilemma of dealing with societal and financial pressures women have endured has steadily heightened as the emotional toll has begun running its course. While some women are able to skip an appointment or two or even manage their symptoms seemingly well on their own, this reality is merely a dream for women who are suffering with undiagnosed and unresolved health issues. Bold Burdon Kemp's research revealed, unsurprisingly, that 11% of women admit to feeling unheard and dismissed when speaking up about their health while 26% admit to feeling stressed out about their reproductive health. ---------
Although these statistics are upsetting, to say the least, the reality of what women have been enduring, as well as the future of their health, is frightening. Women's healthcare has become more of a profitable business rather than a viable source of help. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study serves to raise awareness about the growing issues surrounding reproductive health and the true cost women must pay in getting their concerns addressed and resolved. Senior Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, Olivia Boschat, wants women to be encouraged by this information to prioritize their reproductive health enough to continuously seek help rather than succumb to the pressures of day-to-day life.
What ultimately needs to happen in order to create a more reliable healthcare system and much needed equality between men and women's healthcare products and medications, is more education, funding and most importantly, more women seeking help and speaking up about their health concerns.
WRITTEN BYShivani Mangar