Period pain, amongst other symptoms, is one of the most common ailments for women of any age. On average, a third of women will experience, at a minimum, stomach pain during their period. With negative side-effects being relatively common, why is it that so many women are choosing not to approach a GP or other medical professional for help?
In the 2022 survey conducted by Forth, experts in all things female health, 1,000 women, aged 18 and over, that have periods and aren’t on any form of hormonal birth control, HRT, or gel, were asked about their periods and their experiences.
In this study, researchers found that 52% of women don’t go to their GP for assistance with managing their symptoms. Amongst those women, 16% were located in London. There seems to be a pattern across the study that finds London women to be far less likely to attempt to get medical help with their period, in comparison to other regions.
Amongst the Londoners in the survey, 67% reported that they did not go to their doctor for help. This is a glaringly high number, especially when compared to women from the South East, who made up 14% of the 52% that didn’t approach a doctor, and as a whole were only 36% less likely to approach a GP.
When analysing the reasons given by the women for not going to the doctor about symptoms, 23% of Londoners stated that they couldn’t get an appointment, compared to just 11% in the West Midlands. Similarly, 31% of women in London stated that they didn’t want to bother their GP, whereas only 13% of women in Yorkshire shared the same sentiment.
Something that was expressed quite universally across all regions was a fear of not being taken seriously, with 28% of women across the study expressing this as their reason for not approaching a GP for symptom-management. And it’s easy to see why they may feel disparaged, with 57% of women in London reporting that they hadn’t gotten the support they needed from their doctor when approached. This figure was echoed in the West Midlands, with 56% of women responding that they hadn’t received adequate support.
Regions of respondents who didn’t receive support needed:
- London (57%)
- West Midlands (56%)
- Yorkshire and the Humber (60%)
- East Midlands (46%)
- Wales (50%)
One of the keys to understanding the cause for most period-related symptoms is through blood-testing. The survey asked respondents that had been to their GP about their symptoms whether their doctor had conducted blood tests.
Respondents in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber both responded overwhelmingly that blood tests hadn’t been conducted, with only 20% having had blood tests done.
63% of women in London reported that they had been given blood tests, but, despite this, an overwhelming majority of the women in London felt that their needs still were not met.
The survey asked the women whether they had ever taken a blood test from home to find the cause of their period symptoms, and found that women in the East of England had used at-home blood tests far more than those from the Northern counterparts, with nobody from Yorkshire and the Humber having reported using one. Women from London made up 10% of the women that had used at-home testing, possibly suggesting a move away from typical GP appointments that are difficult to get in busy locations, and towards more convenient methods.