Healthcare bias and its impact on menopause
As we approach the 12-month anniversary of MPowder I’ve been reflecting on and sharing the learnings that I’ve acquired as a result of being part of the community - and having the opportunity, first hand, to talk to 100’s of women transitioning through menopause.
And one of the things that I’ve been most humbled by is the stories of resilience that pretty much every female I speak to shares. I’m fascinated by this thread that connects us all as women. Our ability to endure. To carry. To push on through.
Researchers believe much of this comes from conditioning and bias.
When it comes to pain, men and women are treated differently in society.
One study, for example, found that women in the emergency department who report having acute pain are less likely to be given opioid painkillers (the most effective type) than men. After they are prescribed, women wait longer to receive them.
Another study found that women in emergency departments are less likely to be taken seriously than men. In a 2014 study from Sweden, once in the A&E women waited significantly longer to see a doctor and were less often classified as an urgent case. We are also more likely to receive anti-anxiety medications than men when we come to a hospital with pain – and are more often written off as psychiatric patients. In a recent study published by the Journal of Pain, co-authored by Elizabeth Losin, assistant professor of psychology and director of the Social and Cultural Neuroscience lab at the University of Miami, researchers found that a patient's pain responses may be perceived differently by others based on their gender.
So when we think about menopause, is it any surprise that so many of us simply accept significant symptoms that affect our quality of life? If our pain is ignored or diminished, we learn to endure it.
But menopause is a big chunk of our lives. And it’s not as simple as gritting your teeth until it’s ‘over’ and you’re ‘through it’. Taking care of ourselves at this point has ramifications for how we age too.
We deserve to feel well. Which means we must take agency for our health. Take the energy we plough into resilience and invest it in persistence. Get the right doctor (one who is up to date on the benefits and options around HRT is mandatory). Find the right lifestyle interventions. Request the environment you need to thrive at work.
Because, although I’m blown away by what we women can do despite all we carry, I’m even more amazed by the potential we hold that is not yet realised. We are capable of anything!
And that, a year on from our first pouch being sold, is what MPowder is here for. To make the latest information around menopause available and actionable. To co-create nourishing products with you that work. To build connections. To bring together the best experts. And to reshape midlife as a superpower for women everywhere.