Women’s Chronic Pain Ignored No More!

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Chronic pain affects a startlingly high number of women, yet their experiences are often dismissed, underdiagnosed, and inadequately treated. This alarming trend is finally under the spotlight, with the launch of the Inquiry into Women’s Pain in Victoria – a groundbreaking initiative aimed at transforming pain management for women.

Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, and Health Minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, announced the inquiry, which will examine the systemic issues women face when seeking care and support for pain.

Ms Allan, who suffers from endometriosis, told The Guardian while chronic pain affects a higher proportion of girls and women than men, women are less likely to receive treatment.

“Many women in our community know that there is a gendered pain gap. They know that their pain is real and they also know that for too long, that pain hasn’t both been believed and received the treatment it needs and deserves through our health system,” Allan told reporters.

“That is why the government is placing a significant amount of attention and resources on this issue, because when we support women’s health, we support the health of all Victorians.”

Why the pain inquiry is necessary

inquiry into women's pain

Research shows that women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, with conditions like musculoskeletal, abdominal, and pelvic pain significantly impacting their lives.

28% of Australian women aged over 85 experience chronic pain compared to 18% of men.

Studies point towards a concerning presence of medical gender bias, leading to women’s pain being downplayed, misdiagnosed, and attributed to psychological factors. This results in delayed or inadequate treatment, leaving many women suffering in silence.

The Inquiry will report on Victorian girls and women 12 years of age and over with experience of pain and consider opportunities to improve access to treatment and care.

The inquiry’s objectives:

  • Listening to women: The inquiry provides a platform for women and girls across Victoria to share their experiences with pain, highlighting the challenges they face in seeking diagnosis, treatment, and management.
  • Identifying barriers: By listening to diverse voices, the inquiry aims to identify the systemic and individual barriers that hinder women’s access to effective pain management.
  • Recommending solutions: Based on the gathered evidence, the inquiry will develop recommendations for improving care, treatment, and services for women experiencing pain.

What this means for women suffering from chronic pain

period pain

This inquiry represents a beacon of hope for women struggling with chronic pain. It signifies recognition of their experiences and a commitment to creating a healthcare system that truly listens and provides effective solutions. One in three women reported insensitive and disrespectful health practitioners, who left them feeling dismissed and unheard.

The inquiry opens doors to:

  • Increased awareness: Broader public and medical understanding of gender bias in pain management and its impact on women.
  • Improved diagnostics and treatment: Development of more accurate and comprehensive diagnostic tools and effective treatment options tailored to women’s needs.
  • Empowered patients: Women equipped with knowledge and resources to advocate for their own health and well-being in pain management.

The online survey of 1,772 women was conducted during September and October 2023 by Engage Victoria, the government’s consultation arm.

Ms Thomas told The Guardian the survey findings were consistent with efforts to remove the “shame and stigma” associated with women’s health.

“I remember scuttling off to the bathroom trying to hide pads and tampons, ashamed that I had my period when I was at school,” she said.

“We know that it was not too long ago where to talk about menopause was something that no one does in polite company, let alone in the parliament.

“Our role as leaders … is to break down that shame and stigma and empower more women to talk about what’s happening to their bodies, and to make sure that they’re accessing the health care that they need.”

The inquiry is ongoing, accepting submissions from individuals, clinicians, and organizations until May 2024. Its final report, due in December 2024, will hold immense potential to reshape the landscape of pain management for women in Victoria. This initiative serves as a powerful example, urging other regions and countries to follow suit and address the long-neglected issue of women’s pain.

Causes of chronic pain

Period pain - Adenomyosis

Causes of chronic pain in women varies in each individual case, but hundreds of women suffer from symptoms including:

  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Menstrual pain
  • Pregnancy or birth complications
  • Back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • PCOS
  • Crohn’s

Tips for managing pain


Some helpful tips to help reduce pain include:

Exercise. Keep yourself active. Ask your doctor which forms of exercise you can practice.

Walking, Swimming, Pilates or Yoga are all great exercises to consider. The Healthy Mummy app has hundreds of low-impact exercises to choose from.

Weight loss may also help you control some pain conditions, ensure you seek guidance from your doctor or specialist.

Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.

Massage therapy can help ease tension in your muscles.

Rest. Make sure you get enough sleep and listen to your body when it needs rest.

Take Hormone Balance to help support your hormones and reduce pain, muscle cramps, PMS symptoms with a unique blend of vitamins and nutrients.

Read more:

The ONE daily exercise to do EVERY DAY to lose weight

How mum who suffers with chronic pain has lost 10kg and has less flare ups

This mum with arthritis has lost 15kg and is finally pain free

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