Women Share Times When Male ER Docs Totally Ignored Them (20 Stories)

As someone who has a chronic illness, and has had it since childhood, I know all too well how difficult it can be to get doctors — especially male ones — to listen to me. I’ve had to become a very strong advocate for myself and my health; fortunately, my mom was a great example and I easily followed her lead as I became in charge of my own doctor appointments.

man in white suit jacket
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

But when you’re in an ER, that’s a horse of a different color: you’re in an emergency situation and it can be so hard to effectively stick up for yourself while you’re also in danger.

u/anon2217 shared a story on the TwoXChromosomes on Reddit about an ER doctor totally dismissing her concerns and the thread quickly turned to a safe space for women to share times when their doctors also dismissed them. Stay strong out there, ladies.

OP’s Post:

TMI warning. I woke up at 3am on Tuesday morning, vomiting and shitting all over myself. No trigger for it, seemingly no reason, absolutely zero control over the situation. I stayed home that day and the vomiting and shitting continued throughout the day. I took meds to attempt to control it but by evening I was running a 102 degree fever and both initial symptoms were still going. By bedtime that night the vomiting had stopped so I took some Imodium and slept on the bathroom floor just in case. Wednesday I felt very nauseous and had to force myself to eat but thankfully the Imodium had worked. Thursday I noticed my stool was black. When I got home I used the toilet and the toilet was full of bright red blood and when I wiped, literal blood clots were on the toilet paper along with a lot of bright red blood. I wiped at my front a few times to make sure the blood wasn’t coming from there. I explained the situation to my husband, and as the son of a RN, he told me to get in the car and we went to the ER. I looked online to see when rectal bleeding is something to worry about and it said if it’s heavy, continuous, or accompanied by pain or fever or vomiting.


So we get to the ER and I showed the doctor a picture of the blood and the clots, and he immediately says, “that’s completely normal for women with pcos, this is not an emergency issue.” I explained it did not come from my vagina, it came out of my anus. He asked if I was sure. 🙄🤦‍♀️

I insisted he do some testing, I said he can do a pelvic exam if he wants confirmation that I’m not on my period. He finally agreed to do a fecal smear test and some blood work, and I gave a urine sample. He told me to get dressed because “once the tests come back normal, I’m dismissing you.”


Guess what. He came back a while later and said they were going to put in an iv and do a ct scan, because the tests showed blood in the fecal smear. No shit Sherlock. Long story short I now have to go to a gastroenterologist and get further testing done. But it just pissed me off so bad that this doctor completely dismissed my concerns and if I hadn’t pushed, I would never have gotten the referral I needed to get my body checked out.


Just because it’s blood coming from the pelvic area of a woman does not automatically mean it’s menstrual blood! WTF.

I am so sorry for the details but I don’t have anyone else to talk to that would understand.

Edit: my test results were uploaded to the online chart thing today. I didn’t understand a lot of the medical jargon but the things I saw that stood out was that my fecal smear tested positive for blood, my urinalysis tested positive for blood and protein, some kind of bacteria was present in my urine, and my white and red blood cell counts were both out of normal ranges and flagged for further review. My ct scan detected fluid in my colon that could be blood. Oh, and I am definitely not pregnant.


2. Anxiety?! Laughed it off?!

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I collapsed on the street. The paramedics told me I was having an anxiety attack and told me to calm down. I told them I’ve had anxiety attacks before, this wasn’t that. It felt like something was crushing my chest. They told me oxygen is doing so I need to take bigger breath. I told them I couldn’t. They laughed me off. Got to the ER and they told the receiving nurse I was there for anxiety. I waited 4 hours before the ER Dr suggested testing for pulmonary embolism. And he only did that because a nurse had to literally carry me to my chair after my 11 year old couldn’t hold me up as I tried to go to the bathroom. Turns out my lungs were filled with blood clots and I was dying.

DeAna Crosson

3. X-rays while pregnant

I found being pregnant means that any and all physical ailments are pregnancy related and not really concerning as long as baby is doing ok. It took me 6 doctor visits over a month’s time before a doctor ordered an x-ray for my elbow after I fell in the shower and complained I couldn’t use my arm. They insisted that sore joints are normal in pregnancy and I really REALLY don’t want to risk my baby’s health by getting an unnecessary x-ray, right?

Nope. Busted elbow.

I have anatomy besides reproductive that can need care, and not everything that goes wrong is attached to my uterus!


4. This isn’t acid reflux

I came in crying and holding my abdomen due to severe pain. I was also puking due to the pain, so not my best moment. By the time I was in triage I’d stopped crying but was still hurting and the male nurse suggested that it could be acid reflux. Dude, I know what reflux is like and it’s not about to make me cry . They took my blood and urine and sent me back out to the lobby.

Hours later he finds me in the waiting room and says “you’ll never believe this, it’s pancreatitis!”

Uh, yes I do believe that. I came in here crying but since I’m a woman you decided I’m just being dramatic . I was hospitalized for 3 days.

If we don’t advocate for ourselves we get sh*t treatment. Sooo frustrating.


5. “It’s just your period”

I won’t go to the ER nearest my house anymore. I went there because I could tell I had a kidney stone. I was also on my period. The doctor came in and lectured me about how I wasn’t allowed to go to the ER just because I didn’t like my period, and that I was wasting his time. I was literally vomiting from the pain as he was yelling at me. I left and had to go straight to a different hospital, where I actually got treatment.

A few months later, my husband ate a huge dinner and had upper abdominal pain. We went to the hospital near the house because he didn’t feel he could go further. They immediately gave him morphine and ordered a CT scan. He turned out to be constipated.

I had another problem, when I had an allergic reaction to a blood transfusion, and the young male doctor kept telling me loudly that it was just what blood transfusions feel like and to get over it. I had tried to explain that I have a disease that makes me have allergic reactions to lots of things, and that I needed a higher dose of antihistamines to treat a reaction than most people, but he yelled that he was the doctor and he’d make the diagnosis. I ended up getting my rescue meds out of my purse and taking them because I could feel my throat closing.

I was at that hospital again a year later and my doctor was a female who was actually listening. I was explaining what I have, how it affects me, and what treatment works. The young male doctor I’d seen the year before was walking past and stopped to listen, and was really interested in what I was saying. He didn’t recognize me from the previous year. It was like he could listen because the other doctor was taking me seriously.


6. That’s not a psychiatrist’s job

My GP sent to a psychiatrist. I had severe back pain that also went down my right leg and I could hardly walk. This was After begging for a CT scan (this was in 1997). I went to the psychiatrist and staggered in to his office. The first thing he asks is why I’m limping and I explain that the gp sent me to him because he thinks the pain is psychosomatic. He calls the gp and orders him to get me a CT stat. Turns out I had a large herniated disc L4/L5 with nerve damage and needed emergency surgery. Enden up with permanent nerve damage due to not getting surgery early enough.

Sharon Lamey

7. Thanks for nothing


I once had a rash around my lips. The male doctor I saw told me that I was licking my lips too much and that’s all it was. I said, no, I have always licked my lips and this has never happened before. He told me that when he needs to remind himself to stop doing somthing, he snaps a rubberband on his wrist or slaps his hand to stop it and suggest I do it. I did lick my lips while there (because the rash was causing me to do it more excessively ) and he saw it and slapped my wrist! I was livid.

I pushed, and he gave me an antibiotic “just in case”. Cleared up within a few days.

later, I found out on my own through trial and error it was that EOS chapstick and that most chapsticks will give me an allergic reaction to my lips. Never went back to him again.


8. Not “enough” blood

I dealt with the same sh*t (ha) when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I had to get into a screaming match with the ER doc to get admitted because he didn’t think it was “enough” blood. That was Sunday. I didn’t walk out until Friday. I had a ruptured ulcer.

I would absolutely file a complaint against that doctor. Communicate that you very clearly told the doctor where they blood was coming from, he did not listen, had to be talked into running tests you obviously needed, and was ready to dismiss you before results came back, showing a lack on concern for the symptoms you came in with.

Even if your report does nothing, if ever single woman blown off by the doctor makes a report, a pattern will emerge.


9. Different doc

I spent 2 years telling a specific doctor that something was wrong with my hearing. Went to a different doctor, got a CT scan and found a tumour.

Be persistant!

Christine West

10. No, bitch, it’s a tumor

This happened to me when I was 36 weeks pregnant. I went to the ER and they did some blood work and checked on the baby. Then they told me I had hemorrhoids, “a gift mother’s receive from their children.”

Guess what smug ER ass**les, it was a 9cm tumor in my colon


11. We know our bodies

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I hate this so much. We know our bodies. I had a big fat cyste on my left tube and I felt that something was wrong with it, because I had the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life. I fainted twice and felt like a knife was stabbed in my belly.

Male doctor insists I need to get my appendix checked, which is on the right of your body. I begged him for an echo and after another doctor had confirmed there was nothing wrong with my appendix I finally got the echo and was then rushed into surgery because the cyste happened to turn around and was literally blocking all blood flow to my tube. 10 minutes later and they had to removes my left tube.


12. It wasn’t just strep

A few years ago I caught strep from my kids. Went to urgent care burning up way fever and tonsils so swollen I could barely close my mouth. The urgent care doc sent me to the ER and wanted me to have a CT scan on the tonsils. When I got there the first person I saw, a man, examined me and asked why I was there for just a case of strep, very dismissive like I was wasting his time. My husband explained that the urgent care doctor wanted a ct scan. They put me in a room for hours. Finally a different doctor came in, looked at my throat, and ordered a scan. Surprise! My tonsil was abscessed. The new doctor ordered iv antibiotics, fluids (was badly dehydrated from not being able to swallow), and iv steroids. I ended up staying over night and almost had to have surgery. I didn’t complain and I wish I had. I know the first doctor just stuck me in a room and didn’t bother with me again until a new doc came on the shift because he thought it wasn’t an emergency. Meanwhile, I was in absolute agony.


13. It’s cramps!

Extreme pain. Went to male doc and was told that menstrual cramps can be really hard sometimes and was sent home. Ended up in the ER vomiting and barely able to stand up. Took my souvenir kidney stone to the first doc (mr. menstrual cramps) and shoved it in his face. At least he looked embarrassed and horrified. Never went back to him again.

Jenn Hart

14. “Just” Anxiety

Not nearly as bad but I had an asthma attack at work without access to an inhaler. EMTs came and told me it was probably just anxiety. I told them I do not have a history of anxiety attacks. I have a history of asthma. The EMTs were two 40+ men who didn’t listen to a thing I said to them. I rejected their ride to the hospital and had my partner take me to my family doctor, who determined it was probably an asthma attack and sent me home with an inhaler which worked the next time I had a “anxiety”. Imagine that.


15. It’s not drug withdrawal

One day, I was throwing up nonstop and couldn’t breathe. Honest to God, I thought I was dying. I was under an insane amount of stress between my career, preparing for major knee surgery, and getting married during COVID. I have ulcer flare-ups — plus, with endometriosis, my stomach is real wonky — but this was not right. My husband carried me to the ER, totally freaking out. The ER doctors judgmentally thought I was going through some kind of withdrawal. Mind you, I am a successful 28-year-old. I have never done drugs and hardly even drink. Turns out, I went into starvation ketoacidosis from not eating enough and getting sick from ulcers, which threw off my blood sugar. I also had a terrible period, and I’m not diabetic. I was in the ICU for a week. My nurses apologized profusely during my stay for how I was treated by the doctors. I work in the medical field, and I’ve never once interacted with doctors like those few in the ER. I understand it’s a very demanding and stressful job, but not being taken seriously was really demoralizing


16. It’s CANCER, jesus

my own mom went into the ER with severe chest & abdominal pain about ten years ago and the ER doc ordered an x-ray that showed a huge mass in her abdomen. He called it constipation and sent her home with laxatives. Six months later, another doctor figured out that the mass was a football sized ovarian cyst that ended up being cancerous. She ended up being okay after multiple major surgeries and chemo (thank GOODNESS) but sh*t, ER docs are dumber than doornails.


17. They were trying to get her to admit she made it up

I met my wife when she was in medical school and was with her when she started having severe medical issues that no one could diagnose.

Since she was in med school and her father was a physician, she pointed out to me what the doctors were actually inferring when they questioned her and examined her. Since they could not find anything easy, they were subtly trying to get her to admit to making it all up and that she was faking it for attention.

We finally were able to get diagnosed, but only because I was able to fly her to the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, and a ton of other research hospitals over the course of 12 years. She ended up having a super rare autoimmune disease.

But, what I learned in those 12 years was that doctors don’t believe women, accuse them of exaggerating their pain and symptoms, and that each doctor has 5 pet diseases that they try to diagnose every patient with.

And, ER doctors are the worst. ER physicians are either residents working 100 hour weeks as slave labor or they are full time emergency medicine physicians (who graduated last in their class at med school) who couldn’t get into any other specialty.


18. Still not our period

When I was 15 was very ill and had dark red, then dark brown urine. Dr dismissed it as period blood. Happened again and again. Long story short. Diagnosed as Berger’s disease when I was 30. Years of Dialysis. Kidney transplant


19. Advocate

Half of heart attacks happen 3-4 hours after symptoms begin showing.

Sudden Cardiac Death / SCD is what happens in the other half of cases.

When a woman reports the same exact symptoms as a man, she is often ignored or misdiagnosed by male doctors. You MUST advocate for yourself.


20. Jesus Christ, IT ISN’T OUR PERIOD

Photo by Jim Reardan on Unsplash

I had GYN surgery and two days later I woke up in a pool of blood. It was before office hours and the doc on call wasn’t my doc who did the surgery. He told me that it was just my period like we don’t know when we’re having a period. I finally got my surgeon on the phone who told me to go to the ER immediately and she’d meet me there. Turns out the stitches didn’t hold and I would have bled to death if I had listened to the doc on call.

Jennifer Robinson