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The Naked Truth About Women and Pain: Finding the Right Treatment

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The Problem with Pain Diagnosis

While the caveman and woman scenario is still speculation, what doctors do know for sure is that biology plays a role. For one thing, certain conditions have very different symptoms in the two genders. A woman having a heart attack typically experiences more back and jaw pain, as well as more fatigue, indigestion, and nausea than a man. And women are afflicted with many more excruciating conditions, such as arthritis and lupus, than men are, although no one knows why.

Finally, a number of ailments specific to women are notoriously difficult to diagnose. According to the Endometriosis Association, it takes women about nine years to get the condition labeled correctly. Many spend more years seeking relief.

Just ask Jennifer Singer, 39, a writer in Kinnelon, New Jersey, who changed her diet, tried hormone treatments and even finally had five surgeries for endometriosis but still experiences daily pain. "When I was giving birth to my son, I expected to have the worst agony of my life," she says. "But labor was no worse than the pain I felt every month when I got my period."

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