These 21 Stories From Women Who Were Dismissed By Their Doctors Will Make Your Blood Boil

We recently asked women of the BuzzFeed Community about the times they've been dismissed by doctors.

Scene from Juno with a character expressing a critical view of doctors; includes subtitle text with their dialogue

Here are some of their stories:

1."I started experiencing extreme pain and numbness that went from my back down to my toe. It became difficult for me to walk and ibuprofen wasn’t helping at all. At the time, I worked as a hairstylist and needed to figure out what was happening to me, or else I wouldn't be able to work. I went to an orthopedic doctor who dismissed my concerns, saying that I was just having muscle spasms. Even after I told him about the numbness in my toes, he said I’d be fine and that I shouldn't get an MRI. When I asked if it could be a herniated disc, he said it probably wasn't. Unfortunately, it got so bad that I could barely walk more than a few feet. I finally got an MRI and found out that not only did I have an extremely herniated disc in my back, but it was also pushing up on a bundle of nerves. I was also diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease. It took months of agony only to find out it was exactly what I thought it was."

—25, Florida

2."I went in for UTI pain and a doctor told me the burning was because I obviously had herpes. He said this without doing any tests. I insisted on tests and whadayaknow, I had a UTI (definitely not herpes)."

—39, Seattle

3."I was having really bad diarrhea with some of the worst abdominal pain I've ever felt, and that's saying something coming from someone with IBS. I knew something was really wrong when there was a lot of blood in my stool and I was starting to get dizzy, chills, vomiting, etc. An ambulance was called and I was wheeled into the ER where a bunch of doctors proceeded to NOT take a stool sample, NOT believe I wasn't pregnant, and NOT believe I wasn't menstruating. I ended up going home without a diagnosis and any medication because they refused to prescribe me pain medication. I tried to tough it for another night but then got a friend to take me to another hospital where I found out I had a bowel perforation and a gut infection. The doctor at this hospital asked why I didn't come in sooner and I could barely explain the absolute fiasco that happened at the other hospital."

"You should not be qualified to practice medicine if you think a woman menstruates out of her butt. You also should not be able to call yourself a doctor if you don't believe that a patient tells you they are not sexually active. Not every ailment and medical issue is related to a woman's goddamn reproductive system!"

—36, UK

Person sitting and holding stomach in discomfort
Jacob Wackerhausen / Getty Images

4."I have a history of severe depression, which I thought I was managing, but I could feel that I was starting to spiral. My thoughts were getting darker, I was isolating myself, and if I didn't need to work, I just wanted to sleep and not wake up. I went to a (male) doctor for help and was quizzed on my relationship status and when I would have kids. I was told that it's something I should think about before it's too late (I was 30). I didn't get the help I needed and I felt worse than when I arrived. He didn't acknowledge my mental health at all."


5."I went off birth control to try to get pregnant. Gained a bunch of weight very quickly, and my periods altogether stopped. My doctor ran no tests and told me to keep a food log for two weeks. Brought it back in, and she said there was no way I was this weight (and still gaining) with what I was 'supposedly eating.' When I asked her why she would assign a food log if she wouldn’t believe it, she just shrugged and said some people lie. When I insisted on more testing, she reiterated that I just needed to diet. I left her practice, saw someone else, and turned out I had Hashimotos and PCOS."

"It took a year to get my medication correct and bring my thyroid antibodies down to normal because my levels were so high. I wrote a letter to her practice to let them know how horribly she had 'diagnosed' me."


A doctor discussing with a patient, holding a model of the female reproductive system
Vladislav Stepanov / Getty Images

6."I have probably complained of headaches every time I’ve gone to the doctor for the last decade, but I’ve always just kinda brushed it off as whatever. The doctor never seemed concerned so I figured it was no big deal. My brother had a headache that lasted about two days after our grandma passed, and that SAME doctor asked about migraine history in our family and prescribed him medication to help. Like... what?"


7."I lived with severe hip pain all the way through my 20s and 30s and four pregnancies. My hips hurt so much I could hardly sleep or walk. It was always dismissed as 'loose joints from pregnancy hormones' or 'the extra baby weight' I hung on to (I was 175 pounds at 5'8"). The pain was so bad that I started using a cane, a toilet riser, a shower chair, and a wheelchair regularly. When I finally saw a surgeon who figured out that I was living with undiagnosed hip dysplasia, my relief was indescribable. He said, 'I can't believe you had four babies on this hip!' I had been made to believe I was overreacting or just being a 'wimpy pregnant woman.' It took my hip socket being cut off and three surgeries to fix it!"

—49, California

Person in athletic wear taking a break on a track field, hand on hip, other on abdomen
Stanislav Tarasov / Getty Images

8."My daughter had sent me an article previously about how women’s symptoms of a heart attack were different from men’s. One day I had terrible pain that just got worse and worse across my shoulders and so I went to the hospital. The female ER doctor told me the pain was just from my ‘sedentary lifestyle’ as I had an office job. She told me to go home. My husband and I insisted on having a blood test, which would definitively show whether it was a heart attack or not. She wasn’t pleased we insisted and very ungracefully ordered the test. We waited a further hour for the results and when we were called back she said, ‘You are having a heart attack.' I was in the Heart Institute for a week and had a stent put in right away. No apology of course!!"


9."I always had heavy painful periods, but when I reached my early 30s, it got demonstrably worse. I couldn't do anything for the first two days, and the pain was so intense I would vomit. I spoke with my gynecologist, who ordered an ultrasound, but said she didn't see anything 'significant' and told me to take Ibuprofen 800. This continued until I casually mentioned that my husband and I had been having unprotected sex for over a year without getting pregnant. Suddenly the idea of infertility made her start ordering a bunch of tests, including a dye test to see if my fallopian tubes were blocked. That test is what revealed the very large uterine fibroid that was in the 'most painful spot it could be.' After fibroid removal surgery my life improved tenfold, but even still, I get so angry at the years I wasted in extreme pain coupled with the fact that this pain didn't matter until it was perceived as a fertility issue. So disappointing."


10."I went to a local urgent care with an excruciatingly sore throat, concerned it was strep because the pain was so awful. However, the male doctor who attended to me adamantly dismissed the idea, refusing to even test me until I practically pleaded with him. Still insisting I couldn't possibly have strep anyway, he sent me on my way. When I was walking out the door he handed me a cough drop saying, 'Try this next time!' I have never felt so dismissed in my whole life. Frustrated and in agony, I sought a second opinion at another urgent care down the road right after. The compassionate female doctor there conducted the test with care and efficiency, with minimal discomfort. To my relief, the rapid test came back positive — confirming my suspicion of strep all along. The stark contrast in experiences left me feeling validated and grateful for the compassionate care I finally received."

—27, Maryland

A patient has her throat examined by a healthcare professional using a tongue depressor
Rainstar / Getty Images

11."Before my procedure where cervical cancer cells were going to be removed with a laser, I was told it wasn’t very painful and that they only used a bit of local anesthetic except in rare situations when the patient required complete sedation. I tried to explain that, as a redhead, I require more anesthesia than other people (it’s a fact, you can look it up!) but the doctor, an old white guy, literally rolled his eyes at me and told me I’d be fine. After giving me the local anesthetic, he started the procedure and I started screaming… I’d never felt pain like that in my life! I had tears streaming down my face, and I was begging him for more anesthesia. He told me it wasn’t that bad and to stop being dramatic and that he did 'not have time for this today.'"

"He was using a laser to burn cells on my cervix, but to him, I was exaggerating my pain and being dramatic?! The nurse suggested that if my noise was bothering him, perhaps sedating me would be the best way to move forward. He shouted back that he was NOT stopping this procedure now to sedate me because he had plans for lunch and that he was finishing the procedure whether I liked it or not. When I stumbled back into the silent waiting room to meet my sister, who had driven me there, she said they all heard me screaming."


12."I now know I have endometriosis, but when I was a teenager, I kept being told that my period pain was just IBS, all in my head, and totally normal. When I eventually moved and had to get a new doctor, the first time I went to see them about my period pain they said, 'That's probably endometriosis — we should start treatment now so you feel well enough for us to do investigations.' Absolutely wild how I was ignored from my teens to my early 30s and yet a new doctor figured it out immediately."


13."I’m plus-sized and AFAB. I went to the emergency room after having mild pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen for more than 24 hours and then some digestive issues. I was concerned about appendicitis because I had heard of people not having severe pain. The doctors weren’t even going to look at it because my pain was off to the right more than they expected due to my body shape. Finally, after 36 hours of pain, they diagnosed appendicitis and were going to give me antibiotics and send me home, but I insisted they just take it out so I didn’t have to risk going through that again."


Healthcare professional taking notes next to a patient lying on a hospital bed
Halfpoint / Getty Images

14."I was having intense abdominal pain, so bad I was hospitalized and put on morphine for pain twice. Everything I ate was making me sick or making the pain worse. I went to several doctors and had multiple tests done with no answers, just more pain. The GI I was seeing told me I should just probably stop eating things like pizza and it should go away. They dismissed all the pain I was experiencing and told me it was in my head. I changed doctors after that. The next GI did a simple colonoscopy and found I have Crohn’s Disease, which was in a substantial flare-up at the time. If the first doctor had listened to me it would have saved me over a year of pain and $14,000 in medical bills."


15."I went to a doctor right out of college. My periods were excessively heavy, I only had about two a year, and I had gained 40 pounds in a month with very little change in eating habits. The doctor told me I was prediabetic, obese, and had let myself go because I had gotten married a few months before. I said I didn’t think that was it, but she insisted. I was young and insecure so I just believed her and developed an eating disorder. 5 YEARS and another 100 Pounds LATER someone takes me seriously. I have PCOS and there was so much scar tissue damage I needed surgery."

—33, Kentucky

16."I was 31 weeks pregnant and was told by my OB to go straight to the ER for shortness of breath. I was in the ER and the MALE doctor told me it was just the baby growing bigger and it wasn't anything serious causing my shortness of breath but protocol stated that I received a D-dimer blood test. My D-dimer was elevated which promoted a CT scan and revealed a Pulmonary Embolism which can be deadly. I was immediately admitted to the hospital and put on blood thinners. I was in the hospital for 3 days and it took me two months to finally recover. But yeah, just keep telling me my symptoms aren't serious. I'm now on blood thinners for life."

—36, Pennsylvania

A pregnant person consults with a healthcare professional who is taking notes
Olena Miroshnichenko / Getty Images

17."I found a lump in my breast while nursing my third child. Strangely, it didn't hurt, so I scheduled an appointment with my ob/gyn. However, I was told that women of my age (30) didn't get breast cancer. Despite this, I persisted and asked for a referral to a surgeon, as breast cancer runs in my maternal family history. The biopsy revealed that I had stage 2 breast cancer. I went back to my original ob/gyn, looked him in the eye, and told him to NEVER say that to another woman."


18."I discovered a large, firm lump in my armpit and went to see my primary care doctor (a woman). It was an enlarged lymph node, and after doing an ultrasound, which was inconclusive, the doctor shrugged it off and said that it would be fine to just wait and see if the lump went away on its own because 'women's immune systems just do weird things sometimes.' A year later, it was still there and starting to ache, so she finally sent me to a surgeon to have it removed. That led to a much more thorough biopsy, and, guess what? I turned out to have stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma, which probably would NOT have been stage 4 if it had been diagnosed properly the year prior. I'm okay now, but I did six rounds of chemo, with the potential for life-long aftereffects and complications, that wouldn't have been necessary if my doctor had just been more thorough."

—36, Washington

Woman in a beanie sitting on a couch, embracing a blanket, and looking pensive
Fatcamera / Getty Images

19."My iron had dropped to 2% so my doctor referred me for a colonoscopy to find a cause. The gastrologist refused to schedule me for a colonoscopy because he said I was 'thin.' I tried to find another gastrologist to schedule me but they all refused since I had seen one within a year. They said I was considered under his care because we had one appointment and if he said I didn't need one, they couldn't give me one. I finally found a place that recognized the doctor's name, agreed to see me, and told me a LOT of other women have had this problem with that doctor. Not only was he a jerk, but he was also wrong — I had polyps.

—41, New York

20."I had a breast reduction and about five weeks into recovery started to develop signs of an infection. I had redness, swelling, drainage, and a fever. I was on immunosuppressant medication for the treatment of a chronic illness making me more susceptible to infections. I brought my concerns up to my plastic surgeon and he said it was too late in recovery to develop an infection. A week later I was in isolation in the hospital, needed emergency surgery to drain the infection and remove all the necrotic tissue, and had a long-term IV placed (PICC line) so I would be able to give myself IV antibiotic therapy every 8 hours for the next month."

—28, Massachusetts

21.And finally, "I had a bladder infection for more than eight months straight. I’d go to the doctor, and he’d give me a prescription, it would help for a few days, but as soon as I was finished the drugs, it would return full force. We tried everything, always the same. The doctor told me I might just have to live with it. After six months of suffering, being extremely uncomfortable, and avoiding being out in public for fear of having a urinary emergency, I was finally referred to a specialist. A couple of tests later, we discovered that my IUD had pierced through my uterus and into my bladder. The infections were my body’s way of telling me something was wrong. The specialist got me into surgery quickly, and now I feel like a whole new person! I am so grateful to have my life back. Ladies, advocate for yourselves. You’re so worth it."

—40, Toronto

Doctor with clipboard assisting a smiling senior woman walking through a corridor
Fotodelux / Getty Images

If you have your own story to add, you're invited to do so in the comments, or you can send something anonymously via this form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.