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Women face longer diagnosis times than men for the same pain types, data shows

Nearly one in three women feel their long diagnosis time is due to their healthcare professional not taking their pain seriously

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Women in the UK wait longer than men to receive a medical diagnosis for the same types of pain, new data has shown. 

The research, part of Nurofen’s Gender Pain Gap Index Report, found that less than half (47 per cent) of women surveyed received a diagnosis within 11 months compared to two thirds (66 per cent) of men.

Additionally, more women than men still do not have a diagnosis for their pain after 12 months or longer.

Nearly a third of women surveyed felt the reason it took so long to receive a diagnosis for their pain was because their healthcare professional did not take their pain seriously or dismissed their pain, compared to less than one in five (18 per cent) men.

The survey showed nearly half of women (45 per cent) who feel uncomfortable talking to certain people about their pain say they’re worried they will be judged as a “moaner”, compared to just 35 per cent of men who feel this way.

This translates into fewer women seeking help. Nurofen found 23 per cent of women surveyed have not tried to seek a diagnosis for the pain they experience, compared to 13 per cent of men.

The gender pain gap

Nurofen’s latest research shows the so-called “gender pain gap” has widened a year on since the brand’s first Gender Pain Gap Index Report, highlighting that more needs to be done to tackle unconscious gender bias in healthcare.

Last year’s data showed over half of women surveyed said they felt their pain was ignored or dismissed compared to 49 per cent of men – revealing a gender pain gap of seven per cent.

A year on, while fewer of the women surveyed than last year say their pain has been ignored or dismissed than men, the gap has widened to 11 per cent.

Dr Marieke Bigg, sociologist and author of This Won’t Hurt: How Medicine Fails Women, said: “It’s concerning to see that the gender pain gap has increased.

“Whether this means women are becoming more vocal about the problems they face, or whether medical sexism has intensified, we need to respond to this evidence and make changes to healthcare provision.

“Unfortunately, women’s pain is often dismissed. Healthcare professionals continually misattribute women’s symptoms to stress or ‘hormones’, while men are more likely to be sent for a physical check – even when complaining of the same type of pain.

“Over time, this has led to women’s pain being overlooked, resulting in a gender pain gap.”

She added: “Women are waiting longer to get a diagnosis for their pain, and do not feel empowered to push for the support they need. This is unacceptable.

“With initiatives like Nurofen’s Gender Pain Gap Index Report, we’re seeing more recognition of the issue. But we are still a long way from closing the gap. Women need to start feeling listened to and supported in getting the help they need.”

Dr Bill Laughey, senior medical scientist at Reckitt, the multinational that owns Nurofen, said: “Our latest research shows that fewer feel their pain has been dismissed – perhaps because awareness is driving better quality conversations between patients and healthcare professionals.

“Whilst a positive step forward, the gap has widened and this needs to stop. We’re calling on policymakers, the healthcare industry and medical stakeholders to come together to implement meaningful changes, such as effective gender bias training for all healthcare professionals.”

Nurofen has introduced free gender pain gap training for healthcare professionals, with two-thirds of Superdrug’s pharmacists, pharmacy assistants and nurses having already completed the training.

The brand has also partnered with the charity Wellbeing of Women to fund an innovative new piece of research.

The study, which will happen over three years, will investigate health literacy levels and attitudes towards menstrual pain in adolescent girls and women and address the impact these attitudes on women’s health journeys.

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Menopause start-up bags US$60m in funding

Midi Health aims to expand access to insurance-covered care for women in midlife and beyond

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Midi Health Series B round investors and founders, pictured from left: GV Executive venture partner Cathy Friedman, Midi Health co-founder Kathleen Jordan, Midi Health co-founder Jill Herzig, Felicis Ventures general partner Victoria Treyger, Operator Collective founder Mallun Yen, Midi Health co-founder Sharon Meers, Midi Health co-founder and CEO Joanna Strober, Emerson Collective managing partner Fern Mandelbaum, SemperViren partner Allison Baum Gates, GV general partner Frederique Dame

The US menopause start-up Midi Health has secured US$60m in funding, bringing the company’s total funding raised to date to US$100m.

The funding round was led by Emerson Collective, with support from additional investors, including GV (Google Ventures), Memorial Hermann, SemperVirens, Felicis, Icon Ventures, Black Angel Group, Gingerbread Capital, Able Partners, G9 and Operator Collective.

They joined a syndicate of primarily female-led investors including F7, Steel Sky Ventures, Avestria, Muse Capital, 1843 Capital, Anne WojcickiSusan Wojcicki, and K50 Ventures.

Founded with a mission to close this care gap, Midi is now the fastest-growing virtual clinic focused on treating women in perimenopause and menopause.

The California start-up, which expanded to all 50 states in November, aims to help women navigating midlife hormonal changes.

The company provides patients with care plans that include hormonal and non-hormonal medications, supplements and lifestyle coaching and has partnerships with major healthcare systems, such as Memorial Hermann and benefits platforms, such as Progyny and Cleo.

The additional investment round is hoped to help Midi expand insurance coverage, hire and upskill an additional 150 clinicians, diversify service lines, amplify the conversation around women’s health and scale to care for over one million women per year by 2029.

“We started Midi with just one specific focus: helping women access world-class, expert perimenopause and menopause care, covered by insurance, and we have been at the forefront of delivering on that promise,” Joanna Strober, CEO and co-founder of Midi, explained.

“But what we have also learned is that addressing the health concerns of women in midlife is more complex than simply treating hot flashes and prescribing hormone replacement therapy.

“Midi takes a multi-symptom, holistic approach to care designed to help women live their best, most productive and fulfilling lives—whether that involves medication, lifestyle coaching, natural supplements, or other support.

“Our goal now is to expand services and scope to continue this comprehensive, personalised care far beyond menopause.”

Women spend more than a third of their lives in perimenopause or menopause, with more than one billion women globally expected to be in these life stages by 2030.

Upwards of 85 per cent of women will experience menopausal symptoms that can negatively impact their productivity and quality of life, yet 75 per cent of women who seek care for these symptoms do not receive any treatment.

The primary reason is that only about one in five OB/GYNs, and even fewer primary care physicians, receive specialised menopause education or training.

“Historically, women’s healthcare has been neglected, with perimenopause and menopause having significant unmet needs,” said Fern Mandelbaum of Emerson Collective.

“Midi is providing expert, empathetic care coupled with comprehensive insurance coverage, finally addressing this gap and ensuring that all women receive the support they need and deserve.”

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Start-up launches London Underground campaign to break down period stigma

The two-week campaign seeks to challenge societal taboos surrounding menstrual health

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The Irish women’s health start-up Riley has launched an ad campaign on the London Underground to “take the fear out of periods”.

Riley, an eco-friendly period product subscription service, aims to take action against period poverty and democratise access to period products.

The company seeks to encourage the introduction of menstrual health policies and foster a workplace where discussions around periods are normalised.

Its two-week London Underground campaign, which coincides with the opening of its first office in London, is hoped to help destigmatise periods and normalise conversations around menstrual health.

“The idea behind this campaign comes from the fact that free period care in the office is often seen as an employee perk or a ‘nice to have’, when it should actually be an essential offering in every office,” Meaghan Droney, eCommerce manager at Riley, told Femtech World.

“Our aim with this campaign is to flip those current mindsets and get people to change their attitudes towards period care in the workplace.

“With 79 per cent of menstruators feeling unsupported in relation to their periods at work, this oversight is clearly fundamentally unfair and it’s time for change.

“We’re encouraging any and all businesses to get in touch with us so we can support them in introducing menstrual policies and free period care in their workplace to empower all employees, no matter their gender, to thrive and feel valued at work.”

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that only 12 per cent of UK companies provide support for menstruation and menstrual health, despite 85 per cent of women experiencing stress or anxiety when managing their period at work.

Data suggests that half of the women who take absence because of their menstrual cycle feel unable to tell their manager, underscoring the deep-rooted stigma around periods.

Fiona Parfrey, co-founder of Riley, said: “Access to safe and high-quality sustainable period care products not only demonstrates a commitment to employee welfare but also fosters a culture of empathy, equality, and respect, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and empowered workforce.

“Menstrual policies and free period care are a fundamental necessity for every individual in the workplace. It’s about ensuring that employees have the resources they need to maintain their wellbeing and productivity without interruption.”

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges

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A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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