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By Catherine Snowdon
BBC presenter Naga Munchetty has told a committee of MPs that doctors told her to suck it up after she experienced extreme menstrual health problems.
Ms Munchetty and TV personality Vicky Pattison said GPs had repeatedly called their gynaecological symptoms “normal”.
Both turned to private healthcare to have their conditions treated.
The pair were giving evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee as part of an inquiry into women’s reproductive health.
Earlier this year, Ms Munchetty revealed she had adenomyosis, which affects the womb, but called the process of being diagnosed “infuriating”.
She had suffered debilitating symptoms, including excruciating pain and heavy menstrual bleeding, since her teens, with her husband even calling an ambulance because of the pain, she told the committee.
But the attitude of the GPs had been: “Those are your [treatment] options – and if they don’t work for you, then suck it up.”
Ms Pattison was diagnosed with pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), after hearing about it during conversations on social media.
“For 10 days of the month, I was feeling really fatigued, suffering with insomnia, having crippling anxiety, terrible self-doubt, no passion for the things I normally loved,” she said.
She had visited doctors around the country but always been told: “This is PMS [premenstrual syndrome]. This is what women go through. Every other woman in the world is dealing with this,” making her feel “even more invalidated”.
“Women’s health, be it reproductive, sexual, everything, is given less gravity because we are just expected to get on with it, to suffer it, to be brave. It’s got to change,” Ms Pattison told the MPs.
Ms Munchetty said of seeking treatment privately: “It was the only time I felt I could sit there and take time and force an issue, force understanding, force explanations from my gynaecologist and not feel bad that I was taking up more than 10 minutes of my GP’s time because there was a queue of people in the waiting room.”
Both Ms Munchetty and Ms Pattison told the MPs that women must be properly listened to in the health service.
Ms Pattison said: “GPs, anyone within the NHS, any medical professionals at all, they just need to start to take women seriously when they say something’s wrong.
“I know loads of brilliant women and I don’t feel like we’re the weaker sex at all. I feel like we’re brilliant.
“I feel like we’re strong and powerful and we put up with a lot more than blokes do most of the time.
“If we have got ourselves up and gone into a doctor’s, a hospital, whatever, to say something’s wrong, I feel like the least people can do is listen to her and believe that there is something wrong.”
And “better knowledge, better understanding” about health issues affecting women specifically was needed.
After talking about adenomyosis publicly, Ms Munchetty said she had been approached by medical professionals who had never heard of the condition.
“There’s not enough training, there’s not enough focus in the medical profession on women,” she said.