An exploration of how “women’s pain is all too often dismissed, their illnesses misdiagnosed or ignored."
Jackson, an associate news editor at the Guardian, breezily translates decades of medical research, interviews, and statistics into a book that challenges what we think we know about women’s health and pain. The author, who suffers from endometriosis, expands on her earlier journalism on the condition, writing of the startling misconceptions surrounding cisgender women’s treatment in the medical system. Jackson locates the foundation of modern medicine’s dismissal and misdiagnoses of countless women by detailing the history of hysteria and its insidious consequences for women. For example, she highlights how most people would be surprised to learn that “in 2004, 7.4 million women over 60 years of age died of cardiovascular disease compared with 6.3 million men.” This misconception—that heart disease afflicts the male population more than the female population—is one of many Jackson corrects throughout the book. She adroitly synthesizes complex medical studies and interviews with medical professionals, patients, and researchers. One conclusion is that medical professionals’ current lack of consensus on the best treatments for women with chronic diseases is due to the paucity of clinical trials and dedicated funding for research into how these diseases specifically affect cisgender female patients—or female rodents in trials. Jackson is most effective when she brings together disparate sources and findings to reach digestible conclusions. The author’s personal tale of her struggle with endometriosis creates an engaging familiarity with readers, but her occasionally derisive tone toward men, lumped together as an undifferentiated group, could alienate an otherwise receptive audience. Nonetheless, Jackson is effective in her presentation of pertinent, often surprising information that could help many women stay healthy and find quality, personalized health care.
An informative study of cisgender female care in medicine, from hysteria to Covid-19, with a focus on chronic pain.