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Third of women steer clear of doctors because of anxiety and embarrassment, study finds

The study, by leading gender equality charity Fawcett Society, also found almost two thirds of women in the UK warn their health problems are ‘not taken seriously’ (Alamy/PA)
The study, by leading gender equality charity Fawcett Society, also found almost two thirds of women in the UK warn their health problems are ‘not taken seriously’ (Alamy/PA)

Around a third of women steer clear of going to the doctors because of anxiety and embarrassment, according to troubling new research.

Leading gender equality charity The Fawcett Society says the study also found that almost two thirds of women in the UK warn their health problems are “not taken seriously”. Around a third of women reported enduring poorer health due to their gender.

Researchers for the not-for-profit healthcare provider Benenden Health which partnered with The Fawcett Society for the study, discovered almost six in ten of those women report a negative encounter with a healthcare professional and a third say they were given a late diagnosis.

The study, which polled 10,000 women in the UK, found a third of those women who fear experiencing worse health as a result of their gender have been given a wrong diagnosis. Meanwhile, a quarter say they were placed on the wrong medication.

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of The Fawcett Society, said: “Research like this shows just how much work there is still to be done in even just beginning to understand how stark inequality is in the UK today, and in ways that can seem ‘invisible’.

“It’s time for change. The current system doesn’t work for anyone: women are being let down and the cost to business is enormous.”

Rowan Connell, Benenden Health’s medical director and consultant gynaecologist, added: “The findings of our research paint a concerning look at women’s health in the UK, but it’s a reality that, as a society, we cannot shy away from.”

It comes after The Independent reported on exclusive research revealing a third of those with a women’s health condition have been made to wait three years or longer for a diagnosis.

Researchers from King Edward VII’s Hospital, an independent charitable hospital, found half of those women took a year or more to be given their diagnosis - with gynaecologists warning delays are harming women’s mental health and placing their physical health at risk.

Many experts stress scientific research has long overlooked women’s bodies - with many conditions that only affect women receiving less funding. There are also a number of studies that show women’s pain is often taken far less seriously than that of men.

The data demonstrates that women are not only forced to spend longer waiting in emergency departments than men, but are also less likely to be prescribed effective painkillers.