4min readHealth 07 November 2019
A recent survey of British women reveals that healthcare professionals are not paying enough attention to women's reproductive health concerns and the results have proven to be far more dangerous for women than we have been led to believe
You may be familiar with the infamous phrase "Pink tax" which emerged in recent years as consumer reports discovered a significant disparity between the price of items marketed towards women as opposed to men. Every woman has seen it, the price of "female" products from clothing to personal care items marked up to a much higher price than the same items labelled and repackaged for men. However, the unfortunate reality of this concept exists on a much larger scale than toiletries–it is deeply rooted in the core of women's reproductive health which leaves women in a worse situation physically, financially and emotionally.
To put evidence of "Pink Tax" in more real-world terms, specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp and consultant gynecologist Dr. Anne Henderson conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits to find out the extent at which women are more disadvantaged. The study looked at four main factors when it came to reproductive health: how much women spend monetarily, the amount of time spent, the rate at which their issues remained unresolved and the emotional toll it took.
Women spend more money on healthcare than men
Basic healthcare products and medications are far from cheap, but for women, who typically require more products on a consistent basis, the costs are significantly greater than what men spend– 30% more, to be exact. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study revealed that women in Britain spend £45 more per year than men on sanitary products, incontinence products, painkillers, anti-sickness and intimate hygiene products. In total, that leaves women dishing out £372.36 per year on healthcare.
Not only are women spending more on healthcare products, but younger women have to spend more money than women over the age of 55 whose purchases typically focus on incontinence products as well as products related to menopause. On average, women between the age of 16-24 spend roughly £10-15 per month whereas women between the ages of 25-34 spend an average of £15-20 per month.
Women make more reoccurring doctor visits
Not only is reproductive healthcare costing women their hard-earned dollars, but it requires a huge sacrifice in time and effort to make repeated visits to the doctor's office. Approximately 235,000 British women have admitted to going to the doctor more than 10 times in the past year whereas no such statistic exists for men.
What makes this issue all the more frustrating is the level of difficulty that exists in merely securing an appointment. Dr. Henderson stated, "Accessibility to primary care is without doubt one of the leading problems facing women and men when it comes to health; partially due to cuts to the NHS. Women continuously cite lack of flexible access to appointments is a major issue to getting their reproductive issues seen to promptly." As women continue to prioritize work and family related responsibilities, the window of opportunity needed to secure and follow through with appointments has been slowly diminishing as time passes.
Women's healthcare issues are often unresolved
In addition to the taxing ordeal of getting an appointment within the timeframe most suited to women's individual needs, the amount of women who are left with unresolved medical issues is far greater than some would suspect. Women not only visit the doctor more often than men, but also cease treatment despite having their issues unresolved. Approximately 476,000 British women have gone back to their doctor more than 11 times due to their doctor's inability to resolve the issue after the first visit and 22% reported having stopped their medical treatment altogether.
You may be asking why women have been giving up on seeking treatment for health-related issues and the answer is simply because of the lack of knowledge, education and understanding that medical professionals have when it comes to catering to female reproductive health. Roughly 4 million women stated that they have no one to talk to about their reproductive health, 14% of which also find it difficult to even speak to doctors.
Dr. Henderson admits that while patients still trust their doctors, that trust is far less than it was 20 years ago. "For many GPs, training in reproductive health is rudimentary; their only knowledge tends to be theoretical," says Dr. Henderson. Patients also prefer to turn to social media and the internet for answers to their health-related questions which not only diminishes the need to visit the doctor in the eyes of some, but patients now feel more well equipped to question their doctors diagnosis and treatment.
The Emotional Cost
The exhausting dilemma of dealing with societal and financial pressures women have endured has steadily heightened as the emotional toll has begun running its course. While some women are able to skip an appointment or two or even manage their symptoms seemingly well on their own, this reality is merely a dream for women who are suffering with undiagnosed and unresolved health issues. Bold Burdon Kemp's research revealed, unsurprisingly, that 11% of women admit to feeling unheard and dismissed when speaking up about their health while 26% admit to feeling stressed out about their reproductive health.
Although these statistics are upsetting, to say the least, the reality of what women have been enduring, as well as the future of their health, is frightening. Women's healthcare has become more of a profitable business rather than a viable source of help. Bolt Burdon Kemp's study serves to raise awareness about the growing issues surrounding reproductive health and the true cost women must pay in getting their concerns addressed and resolved. Senior Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, Olivia Boschat, wants women to be encouraged by this information to prioritize their reproductive health enough to continuously seek help rather than succumb to the pressures of day-to-day life.
What ultimately needs to happen in order to create a more reliable healthcare system and much needed equality between men and women's healthcare products and medications, is more education, funding and most importantly, more women seeking help and speaking up about their health concerns.
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We are living in a time when women are rising to new heights which means they are regularly being confronted with the fear of being "too much". For women in business this is pervasive and costly.
A few ways women can be perceived as "too much" are:
Speaking up about their successes and achievements.
Sharing one too many photos of their cute kids.
Telling one too many people about that date night.
Looking a little too good in that swimsuit.
These can lead to being publicly attacked on social media or privately slandered which in turn leads to women dimming their light and walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding conflict and judgement.
The minute a woman feels it's unsafe to shine she will begin to overthink, worry, and fear how she shows up in the world.
Forgetting to announce the book is done and the interview is live.
Choosing to focus on what's still on the to-do list rather than what's been checked off.
Many female entrepreneurs are subconsciously altering their behavior in an attempt to not attract too much attention to themselves, rather than focusing on allowing authenticity and magnetism to attract their ideal clients and community.
Women are afraid of being criticized, ostracized, and abandoned by other women for simply being who they are. This leads to quite the quantum when being who you are is simplest way to accelerate the growth of your business.
New research shows men are far more comfortable with self promotion than women are. Researchers found that men rate their own performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women. What we know is that self promotion pays off and this is where women are missing the boat.
The world needs more women to step into leadership roles and no longer be intimidated about creating six and seven figure careers.
Here are five ways to release the fear of being "too much":
1. Approve of yourself.
While it feels good to receive outside validation it will never be enough if you don't first appreciate yourself. The key to having a healthy support system is to make sure you are part of it. Being your biggest critic is what your mother's generation did. It's now time to be your biggest cheerleader. Becoming aware of self talk will reveal what belief is ready to be re-wired. Create a simply mantra that affirms how incredible capable you are.
2. Connect deeply to those you serve.
One powerful way to shift out of people pleasing behavior is to get clear on who actually matters to the wellbeing and success of your life and business. Leadership is not about being the most popular, instead it's a decision to be brave for those who can't be. Take a few minutes each day to visualize and meditate on those your business serves and supports. See your future clients moving toward you every time you choose to stand in your power and use your authentic voice.
3. Remember the legacy you wish to leave.
Having your life purpose and legacy in writing is one of the most transformational exercises you can do. Reading this often will keep you focused on what matters. Knowing what you wish to leave in the hearts of those you love most is incredibly grounding. You didn't come here to keep your mouth shut, dilute your truth, or dim your light-you came here to make a difference.
4. Forgive those who have been unsupportive in the past.
The past has a way of informing the future in a negative way when there is unresolved pain. Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself who you have unforgiveness towards or maybe their name came to mind as you read this article. Listening to a forgiveness meditation or writing a letter to the person you are ready to forgive are both simple and effective ways to process and heal.
5. Be part a community of bright, successful women.
Meaningful relationships with others who have similar aspirations is what will keep you out of isolation and playing small. These connections can happen in a networking group, online community or a local Meetup. Thriving in every area of life is depend on you knowing where you belong and being celebrated there. Don't wait to be invited, go actively seek out people and places that support your dreams and desires.
6. Accept you can have it all.
Women have been fed a lie for generations that says, you can have love or money. Decide you can have it all and allow it to flow to you. You can have a successful career and an amazing mother. You can balance motherhood and loving marriage. Don't let anyone write the rules for you. This is the time to create the life you desire on your terms.
7. Celebrate everything!
The fastest way to leave the haters in the dust is to celebrate everything! At the end of each day lay in bed and recall the best moments. At the end of each week, publicly acknowledge and celebrate what's good in your life. Once a month, have a celebration dinner and share it with those who have helped you in the journey. If there's something good happening, talk about it with everyone who will listen!
May you be a woman who chooses to shine so that others may be reminded of all they can be and do.