The Cruelty of Disregarding Women’s Health Issues
Aside from writing, I work as a freelancer editor. The great beauty of this is that I see a lot of academic papers on a whole myriad of topics. An editing assignment last week blew my mind.
In the research I was editing, a term was mentioned that I had no idea existed. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Basically, this is PMS on steroids. PMDD is the hurricane that happens when you only thought there would be a tropical storm.
It is rare but extreme and requires attention and care beyond just telling a woman to go home and take a Midol and letting her know she’ll feel better next week once her period is over.
This also begs a question: How is it even remotely possible that I have spent 34 years of my life with a menstrual cycle and had no idea that this was even a thing? Oh, wait. I do know.
There is a woeful lack of attention that is paid to women’s health conditions outside of whether they are carrying a fetus and want to continue to carry it. Yes, I did. I went there. Not sorry.
It is too often that women’s concerns are completely dismissed, especially when it comes to anything that may be associated with our uterus. Somehow, the medical community has got it in their heads that a uterus is a mysterious organ that is somehow responsible for all female undoing.
There’s a historical precedent in this. The word hysteria is actually derived from the Greek word for uterus — hystera. Super. What this means is that anything that any doctor, husband, or father found wrong with a woman was blamed on her uterus.
This was really convenient for men who could drag a woman off to the doctor and claim she was hysterical. The doctor would take one look at her and see she was a woman, note that women have uteri, and BOOM. Hysteria diagnosed.
Of course, the benefit of this for the men was that an often prescribed treatment for hysteria was sex. So women were dragged to the doctor when they weren’t being agreeable and then told that to cure this…