Gender pain gap exposed

February 5, 2024 BY

Nearly 50 per cent of survey respondents were impacted by issues related to their periods, pregnancy, birth and postnatal care, or conditions like endometriosis. Photo: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

A survey of Victorian women has revealed chronic pain is the reality for many, with two in five respondents indicating the ongoing pain they experience adversely affects their health and wellbeing.

The survey was undertaken by the state government between September and October last year and received more than 1,750 responses.

Almost half were significantly affected by issues related to menstruation, pregnancy, birth complications and sexual and reproductive health.

One in three had health conditions that affected their ability to work, while 25 per cent reported that their health affected their friendships and social connections.

More than 50 per cent of respondents reported poor mental health, with about 30 per cent indicating that their poor mental health was often the result of the impacts of other health conditions, such as endometriosis, menopause and chronic pain.

For many women, the costs associated with seeking medical care also affected their health with many either delaying or missing out on services.

The survey also enquired about the effectiveness of the healthcare received.

Many respondents cited struggles to find knowledgeable practitioners and one in three said they’d encountered insensitive or disrespectful practitioners who had left them feeling dismissed and unheard.

Premier Jacinta Allan said the results from the survey were not “a mic drop moment for the majority of Victoria’s population”.

“Every woman has either experienced it for herself or knows someone who has. But now we have the evidence to prove it,” she said.

“It’s time we stopped treating women’s health like some kind of niche issue. We deserve to have our pain believed and relieved.”

Following the results of the survey, the state government announced an inquiry into women’s pain will take place this year.

Led by a panel of experts and overseen by the Women’s Health Advisory Council, the inquiry will examine the systemic issues women face when seeking healthcare and provide recommendations to improve the delivery of care for women and girls experiencing pain.

Submissions to the inquiry can be made until March 12.

To find out more, head to health.vic.gov.au/inquiry-into-womens-pain

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