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Technology and society

Chhavi Sachdev
Podcaster and Independent Radio Producer/Reporter
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piqer: Chhavi Sachdev
Wednesday, 08 May 2019

Migraines, sexism, and stigma

As a #migraineur, I'm always looking for more information about migraines and it's always shocking that there is such a paucity of information, help, or treatment. I only realized recently that this lack is the symptom of a massive problem: sexism. There's no way to sugar coat this, but the truth is that headaches are typically "women's problems" and sadly, women are not treated as credible even when they're the patient. Plus, data shows that the funding women's issues gets is meagre at most. 

Maya Dusenbery is the author of Doing Harm,  "a hard-hitting expose that reveals how modern medicine is systematically failing women today." Even today, there's one drug, she points out, where the dosage differs for men and women taking into account their different physiologies. 

In the context of migraines, she talks about how pain management is neglected by physicians as well as their teachers and institutes. Migraines are particularly hard to deal with -- from a doctor/researcher's point of view -- because they're quite subjective, and the description is based on a sufferer's experience. There's no way to stick a thermometer into the brain and measure the levels and symptoms from the outside. 

Her key point is this: "Gender bias in healthcare is systemic and unconscious and shapes what we know and the quality of the care that patients receive." 

That makes me pretty angry. But the podcast goes on to also share how patients can advocate better for themselves as well as how policies can change. This is very US focused, but as a migraineur, I don't care if the research happens overseas as long as targeted drugs and therapies are developed. 

Migraines, sexism, and stigma
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