It doesn’t take long once you learn about functional medicine to realize it attracts primarily women. Why? Chronic disorders affect more women than men and conventional medicine’s treatment of women often ranges from disappointing to dehumanizing.
Conventional medicine failing women
When women show up at doctors’ offices with “mystery” symptoms from chronic disorders they are often left feeling demoralized and hopeless.
What are some of areas where conventional medicine fails women?
Mystery symptoms dismissed as psychosomatic or whining. Autoimmune disease overwhelmingly afflicts more women than men and can cause years and even decades of symptoms before diagnosis. Many women are told to exercise more, meditate, or take anti-depressants for their symptoms but given no real solutions.
Told to exercise more for chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue affects four times as many women as men. However, these women are often simply told to exercise as many doctors don’t believe in chronic fatigue, even though it is now medically recognized. These women often end up feeling worse.
Pain in women undertreated. Studies show doctors are slower to treat pain in female patients in emergency rooms and generally undertreat women for pain due to the belief that childbirth makes women more resilient to pain.
Fibromyalgia, a disorder of chronic pain, also affects mostly women and is often regarded as not legitimate.
In fact, some researchers believe disorders such as fibromyalgia and autoimmunity are so frequently belittled and dismissed because they affect predominantly women.
Poorer response to female heart disease. Women have worse outcomes from heart attacks because medicine looks at male-based heart symptoms. For instance, many women do not have chest pain. As a result, treatment is often less aggressive than necessary.
Hospital childbirth practices traumatic. If there is one place where many women lose their faith in medicine, it is during a hospital childbirth. Women are often pressured into unnecessary procedures or left hung out to dry emotionally in the event of a problem or emergency. As a result, many leave the hospital with postpartum PTSD.
Female sexual abuse survivors also experience worse outcomes in hospital childbirth scenarios.
Male-based studies don’t translate to female patients. Most medical models are based on male physiology. As a result, many signs and symptoms that present differently in women go misdiagnosed or dismissed. Autism and heart attacks are two examples.
Plus, women experience chronic diseases such as autoimmunity, fibromyalgia, and hypothyroidism at significantly higher rates than men and thus are often told their symptoms are “in their head.”
Functional medicine for women
Fortunately, in functional medicine we conduct comprehensive histories, examinations, and testing with all patients regardless of gender.
We specialize in working with chronic so-called “mystery” disorders that predominantly affect women and are explained in the scientific literature.
One thing we frequently hear from women is how good it feels to finally be heard. Ask my office how we can help you.
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