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Katie's story: 'Women are very good at coping with pain...the expectation is to just get on with it”

Katie Taylor shares her experience of living with pain


For Katie Taylor, 53, pain has been a regular occurrence throughout her life.

Katie shares her experience of living with pain as part of the Gender Pain Index report published by Nurofen and supported by Wellbeing of Women.

I’ve had various health issues, gynae and non-gynae related, throughout my life. Like many women, I always suffered from fairly painful periods, and I had a miscarriage at 26. It started as spotting, but then I was in pain.

Thankfully, I went on to have four children but because the first one was an emergency c-section the other three also ended up being by caesarean. The pain post-op and the recovery were tough but, as most mums do, you just get on with it!

'I felt like a hypochondriac and was diagnosed with depression.'

Around the age of 43, I started to experience back and joint pain. Visits to my GP resulted in me being offered antidepressants and it was recommended I book in to see a psychiatrist.

Despite the pain being at times totally debilitating, the psychiatrist was extremely dismissive and told me: “The pain is probably in your head, because you are just feeling very down and not moving around much anymore.”

I felt like a hypochondriac and was misdiagnosed with depression. It took four years and paying to see a private gynaecologist who specialised in the menopause to get the right diagnosis of perimenopause and the right prescription, HRT. After this, symptoms started to subside very quickly.

I also suffered from adenomyosis, which presented during this time in very heavy periods and very swollen ankles. This caused me to become anaemic and meant I had very little energy to do anything.

My GP tried various different medications and interventions, but when nothing worked and my GP had run out of further options, I asked to be referred to a gynaecologist. He recommended a hysterectomy and I then spent six weeks recovering at home in quite a lot of pain.

'I was in absolute doctor said it was probably indigestion.'

If that wasn’t enough, post-hysterectomy at the age of 51, I found myself one night writhing on the floor in extreme pain that progressively got worse and worse.

I started feeling faint and sick, so I rang the GP and was told it sounded like food poisoning and to call back in the morning if it didn’t improve. By the morning I was in absolute agony, and my doctor said it was probably indigestion, but if no improvement by the afternoon I should go to A&E.

It turned out it was my gall bladder and I needed it removed pretty much there and then. The pain afterwards was worse than the hysterectomy, but as ever I just got on with it!

Women are very good at coping with pain and don’t complain because we often feel like we are being a nuisance or are worried we will be dismissed. And because we are so good at just juggling so many different things, the expectation on women is to just get on with it.

According to the Gender Pain Index report, more than 1 in 2 women (56%) feel their pain is ignored or dismissed by healthcare professionals. Nearly half (48%) of all adults believe there is a ‘gap’ in the identification and treatment of pain between genders.

Read more about the report and find out how Wellbeing of Women is addressing the Gender Health Gap through our research, education and advocacy work.