The health gap: How women experience the medical system

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A special series about how men and women experience the medical system – and their own health – in starkly different ways.

We’re all aware that healthcare can fail patients. But what if it were failing half the world’s population?

It’s well-established that your race, class and wealth can affect your quality of healthcare. But one of the less obvious ways, and one which affects the most people, is gender.

Women are less likely to have their pain treated, their symptoms taken seriously or to be given a diagnosis than men. Their bodies, and the conditions that primarily affect them, are less likely to have been studied in clinical trials (which make effective treatments difficult to find). Even medical products used only by women – like the oral contraceptive pill – are based on male bodies (in the case of the pill, male hormones).

Thanks partly to movements like #MeToo, we are seeing increasing coverage of how gender bias exists everywhere from the workplace to film sets. And researchers are now finding that this bias doesn’t vanish at the door of a medical research lab or doctor’s office.

In this special series for BBC Future, we’ll be looking at the different ways in which women experience medical treatment – and, accordingly, their own health. Bookmark this page and return to it as we publish the series in the coming months.

One country's plan to save women's lives

How the pill changes your body shape

The dark past of the world's most popular contraceptive method

Why isn't this birth control used more?

The strange truth about the pill

'It sucked': Eight women open up about being on the pill

How the menstrual cycle changes the brain

Why do more women donate organs than men?

What is vulvodynia?

The mystery of the pelvic floor

Why dementia hits women harder than men

The enduring mystery of migraines

Why are more women getting lung cancer?

How alcohol affects women more than men

The health risks of maturing early

The case for renaming women's body parts

The medical bias killing patients

Why doctors dismiss women's pain

Do you have an experience to share? Or are you just interested in sharing information about women's health and wellbeing? Join our Facebook group Future Woman and be a part of the conversation about the day-to-day issues that affect women’s lives.

The Health Gap is a new series curated and edited by Amanda Ruggeri. She is @amanda_ruggeri on Twitter. Are there other factors or questions you think we should explore? Let us know your opinions on the social links below, or share your thoughts with the hashtag #healthgap.

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