Why Medical Honesty is Difficult for Women
Today, even as the number of female doctors are increasing, there is still a significant discrepancy between the number of doctors who are men and those who are women. As of April 2016, the percent of female doctors in the United States is 33% and male doctors 66%. While doctors are trained to be as objective and clinical as possible, if you are a woman and have a male doctor, being completely honest with that doctor about your body may be difficult. If this is the case for you, what is the solution? Should you seek a female doctor? Work on your feeling of embarrassment and trust the integrity of the medical profession? Those might be viable options. However, a new one is arising that may help women be as honest as possible about their physical health, and thus, more accurate. Why not try tracking your health with an App?
Honesty & Apps
In our previous post, we discussed both the advantages and dangers of relying too heavily on medical apps for your health. You can read about that here. In light of that, an interesting article was recently published in The New York Times highlighting a medical App for women called Clue. Clue is a medical app designed to keep track of your monthly cycle by entering data about your period, pain, mood, fluid, sexual activity and personal notes.
A New York Times article recently published an article on the dilemma many women face when discussing personal aspects of their health, Even today, its difficult for women to get a sense of whats normal and what isnt. When my friends and I talk about our bodies, we compare feedback from physicians, all of which seems to be slightly different .There still seems to be a combination of prudishness and ignorance around the unique, and sometimes idiosyncratic, functions of the female body which is shocking, considering half the world is born with one.
As we as a society progress in being more at ease with gender diversity, as well as not being ashamed of the natural phases our bodies go through, issues regarding the potential bashfulness women have in talking about their bodies persist. In the meantime, however, apps like Clue may be helpful. One of the benefits of apps in particular and technology, in general, is the potential it has to make one feel more safe about what kind of information they convey, through its sense of privacy. Though the fear of hacking and others gaining access to this information persists, for women who need an accurate tracking system to gain greater knowledge about the workings of their bodies, apps may, in fact, be a boon: and help you speak to your doctor more specifically about your body.
Research & Findings
The Times article refers to a conference in which researchers studied and analyzed Clue. They found the data collected to be very detailed and accurate. The data is as close to real-time as we can get, Jasmine McDonald, an assistant professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said. The researchers were particularly encouraged to hear that young women going through adolescence were using Clue. Adolescence can be an incredibly self-conscious time. For young women, talking with an adult doctor may be even more uncomfortable, compromising both honesty and accuracy. Clue, then, has the potential to be extraordinarily helpful to young women in understanding the changes their growing bodies are going through.
Smartphones are used more than ever, at all age levels. They are
increasingly our repository for information. A lot of the information gleaned from them can be destructive, however, so it is still advisable to consult those getting used to them how to sift the good information from inaccurate information. Once there is a working knowledge of doing this, smartphones and technology can be a great way to gain knowledge.
Dont Replace Apps With Regular Examinations!
Though medical apps should never be used as a replacement for regular doctor examinations, they have the capability to come to doctor visits prepared with crucial information the doctor needs to make accurate assessments.
The author of the Times article makes this point eloquently: the apps werent just a repository of daily facts; they had become a legible map to my body .I [now] have years of data about my periods and an extremely accurate understanding of how my body works: when Im likely to experience cramps and breast pain, when to skip yoga and social outings because Ill need more sleep. All my life, my doctors tended to be vague, making my bodily functions seem ultra mysterious, when in fact they are just individualized, and easily understood with the assistance of software.
The Power of Knowledge
Collecting information such as this, leading to a very personal knowledge, can help us both understand how our bodies work, and also aid us in how to decrease stress, how to adjust, and ultimately, how to become more comfortable with who we are.
- Distribution of Physicians by Gender. 2016. Accessed April 16, 2016. http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/physicians-by-gender/.
- 2016, Clue. Clue App: Period and Ovulation Tracker for iPhone and Android. 2016. Accessed April 16, 2016. https://www.helloclue.com/app.html.
- Wortham, Jenna. Were More Honest with Our Phones than with Our Doctors.Magazine (The New York Times), April 4, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/27/magazine/were-more-honest-with-our-phones-than-with-our-doctors.html?_r=0.