Skip To Content

    Here Are Five Stories From Women Whose Doctors Didn't Believe Them

    "These are the people who are supposed to fix you."

    Hi world, Lara here, and a couple of months ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share their stories of times that, as people who identify as female, they felt like doctors didn't believe in their pain.

    As someone with health issues that are female-anatomy related, I have had numerous experiences with doctors not taking my pain seriously or not believing me at all. I was curious to see if others had felt the same.


    I ended up publishing this piece with 29 stories included. The stories were shocking and in many cases, horrifying. But what shocked me the most was the amount of submissions I received. Hundreds and hundreds. Obviously I wasn't alone.

    Alice Mongkongllite for BuzzFeed

    So the time has come for myself and four other women at BuzzFeed to share our stories of the time our doctors didn't believe us.

    View this video on YouTube

    Boldly / Via

    Lara's story:


    I was 15 when I vividly remember being at basketball practice and suddenly being overcome with extreme abdominal pain. I went to the doctor and waited for over an hour to be seen. When the doctor finally came in to see me, she immediately started asking me if I was going through any stress at school or in my home life. The doctor then noticed that I had a "In memory of..." button on my jacket next to me. The doctor asked me about the button and I explained that my good friend had passed away several months before and the buttons were to raise money for a scholarship. The doctor suddenly put away her folder and looked at my mom and said, "I know what's going on here."

    She then proceeded to take the button off of my jacket and made me hold it and look at it. She then asked me to "say goodbye once and for all" to my friend. She waited while I just looked at her wondering WTF I should do. Once I uttered "goodbye" to the damn button I was holding, she told my mother that "acting out" like this was normal for teens in dramatic situations. She then left the room. Years later, after several more episodes similar to this one, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and ovarian cysts among other things. So, no, I wasn't just "acting out."

    Tania's story:


    I was around 17 when I first started getting paralyzing pain in my abdomen. Every doctor I saw said it was just my period. This went on for years. I knew it wasn't just period pain, though. It was different. One day, I was at airport getting ready to catch a flight when the pain overwhelmed me. I couldn't move, the pain was so bad. They ended up having to call an ambulance, because all I could do was lie on the floor of the airport writhing in pain. I really started to question myself, and truly I felt like I was losing it. After so many doctors suggesting that it was just period pain, I almost started to wonder if it was. I questioned whether or not I would have to deal with this pain for the rest of my life until menopause.

    It wasn't long before I, once again, was back at the doctor with extreme abdominal pain. Except this time I demanded an ultrasound...which showed a 13cm cyst on my fallopian tube. It was just sitting there on my tube the entire time, getting worse, because it wasn't being treated. Because my doctors just kept insisting that it was period pain. It was such an infuriating thing to go through and even now I look back on it and it's like... five years of my life that are missing. All because my doctors didn't believe me when I told them how much pain I was in.

    Daysha's story:


    I was 23 I think when this happened. I was having breathing problems and I was feeling very lightheaded. I had just installed my air conditioner and I was worried I had done something wrong, because I hadn't had breathing issues like that in years (I used to be asthmatic).

    I didn't want to be one of those single people who lives alone and is found dead in their house after a week with a cat gnawing at their remains (even though I don't even have a cat), so I called 911.

    The first people on the scene were the firefighters/paramedics, and they were like 20 people deep for no reason. So they all enter in this squad, and I manage to make it down to my lobby to meet them. Upon inspecting me, and asking me questions about how I was feeling, I guess I wasn't showing the "right" signs or real signs of danger in their eyes. So their first question was whether or not I was going though a bad breakup/fight with my boyfriend, or if I was pregnant.

    I was angry. I wanted to tell them that when I find a boyfriend to break up with, I'm glad to know that they're the best people to call. But because I was short of breath and patience with these ass-clowns, I tried to just move on. They literally asked me in the lobby if I had gone through a breakup AGAIN and I said no. They said I was fine, even though I still didn't feel ok, and upon walking me back up to my apartment, he asked one more time if I was sure I hadn't gone through a breakup recently. Like WHY would I lie about that? Also, thanks for the help.

    Jessica's story:


    For the past three years I have been experiencing pain in my vagina. It started as a little tingle during sex and then grew to be an unbearable pain that affected me in my daily life, riding a bike, wearing jeans…sitting. When I noticed the tingle, I asked my gyno if anything looked strange down there, she literally laughed when I explained my symptoms and said no. I went back when it was pain and she still couldn’t give me an answer. She didn’t say she didn’t know either, she just said nothing was there. Over the next four months we tried two different drugs and creams. Nothing worked, I went to 3 more gynecologists, they also couldn’t help me. I eventually did my own research and posited my own theories, but they were never taken seriously.

    I tried one more doctor who had the most swimming reviews. She told me I looked fine, to go back on birth control and suggested antidepressants. I felt dejected. I knew the pain was physical, but all the stress surrounding it was affecting my day-to-day, my long-term relationship, and my mental state.

    A decrease in the amount of sex I’m having has led the day-to-day pain to subside, but the issue is still unresolved. I still have yet to find a doctor that I can afford to see who will take me seriously. Around my period or during longer spans of sex, an area of my vulva turns bright red and becomes sensitive and painful, but, hey, I guess that’s normal.

    Kelsey's story:


    On Christmas Eve 2014 I had jaw surgery that was supposed to fix issues I’d been having with my jaw for years. When I awoke from the surgery, I knew immediately something was wrong. My bite was off, I was in intense pain despite heavy pain drugs... something just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until four days later that the surgeon realized my jaw didn’t “take” to the surgery — aka he had fucked up. However, at the time (I was heavily sedated) I didn’t have another doctor to ask for a second opinion and the surgeon rushed me back into surgery to fix the mistake. In the months following the “successful redo” I began experiencing the worst pain known to mankind. I was far worse off than when I started. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get a diagnosis from alternative doctors — meanwhile my surgeon just kept telling me to wait a year for the pain to stop and the feeling in my face to return.

    Over a year later, I finally got a definitive diagnosis from a different doctor — I had developed Trigeminal Neuralgia and Anesthesia Deloroso from the botched surgery. While aesthetically my face and jaw looks “normal” no one will ever know the true pain I have to live with every single day. I stopped talking to and seeing the doctor who performed the original surgery and we eventually tried suing but the statue of limitations had prevented us from moving forward in receiving any compensation for money lost, time lost, and most importantly... the irreversible chronic pain he caused. I’m not sure if he’ll ever know the extent of damage he’s done to my life.