Woman Points Out The Stark Difference In Medications She And Her Husband Were Prescribed After Both Having Serious Medical Procedures

“To be clear, my pain was managed just fine with those two, and I didn’t want anything else, but that's not the point, is it?”

Woman laying in hospital bed after a medical procedure. Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com

Gender bias in medical treatment is not a secret, but many times, women don't notice or complain because it's not blatantly obvious. That wasn't the case for one woman on Reddit

In a since-deleted post, she explained the stark difference in prescribed medications between her and her husband after both required pain medication following medical intervention. 

This woman’s husband was prescribed an opiate for his vasectomy, while she received ‘over the counter’ meds for her C-section childbirth.

“A lot of people are focusing on the C-section part. This isn’t about the C-section necessarily… It’s the principle. It’s the fact that it wasn’t even a consideration, but for a vasectomy, it’s handed out like dangerous candy.”

@doctorsood Make it make sense 🤯VC: @bluegirl6891#womenspain #womenshealth ♬ Pain - Three Days Grace

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After her husband received a minimally invasive 15-minute procedure — an outpatient vasectomy — she was shocked when he came home with a bottle of Vicodin. A highly addictive narcotic, typically prescribed to help alleviate “severe pain.” Vicodin seemed incredibly too intense for a vasectomy that typically elicits “discomfort” at worst for a couple of days.


“My C-Section required a spinal [injection] that numbed the entire bottom half of my body, and I couldn’t move my legs at all. So basic comparisons say a C-section is a major surgery and a vasectomy is not,” she wrote. “BUT THEN HE IS PRESCRIBED A SERIOUS NARCOTIC AND I WAS TOLD GOOD LUCK WITH TYLENOL AND IBUPROFEN.”

Gender biases and systemic stereotypes about women's pain tolerance often influence these stark differences in medical treatment.

Especially considering the childbirth she’d just experienced — complete with a fully invasive abdominal C-section procedure with pain throughout the six-week healing period — she couldn’t believe the stark difference in her and her husband’s prescribed medications. “This is a major abdominal surgery that takes 6 WEEKS to be cleared,” she emphasized. “I was discharged after 36 hours [for my] C-Section and told to take over-the-counter Tylenol and Ibuprofen.”

While she said she was able to tolerate her pain over the next few weeks, she couldn’t believe the overcompensation her husband was given with his own pain medication prescription. Especially considering the risks of opioid addiction and cutbacks from providers in prescribing these medications in recent years, she was disappointed, to say the least. 

Pharmacist looking at medications on shelf. Hiraman / Shutterstock.com


Doctors are often split over the type of medications needed to treat pain for childbirth procedures and will often wait until complications arise to treat with narcotics. 

However, most physicians unanimously agree about what’s needed for a vasectomy — it’s not technically considered a serious procedure by medical standards, and there’s an incredibly low risk for pain or complications. Almost 95% of vasectomy patients treat their procedures without narcotics — yet this woman’s husband received them.

So, while it seems there’s a level of irresponsibility on her husband’s doctor’s part, this woman’s situation is still greatly representative of the reality many women struggle with in medical institutions.

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An intersectional discussion of health disparities is essential, especially for marginalized women.

Gender stereotypes and harmful biases routinely impact everyone’s life, even in the doctor’s office — a place you’d hope to be universally unbiased, honest, and open. However, studies show that assumption is just plain ignorance as doctors often underestimate, and sometimes mistreat, women’s pain based on gendered assumptions about tolerance.

Typically referred to as medical negligence — a bias or stereotype that bleeds into a medical professional’s routine standards — these kinds of situations are often a result of ignorance, carelessness, and even patriarchal superiority in many cases.

However, there’s a much larger and more complex discussion to be had about medical negligence — more specifically characterized as medical or systemic racism — for people of color in our country. Especially for Black and other POC women, biased perceptions of pain both on an individual and systemic level in medical institutions lead to health disparities ranging from mistreatment of medications to entirely wrong medical diagnoses and procedures.


Women are being overlooked, mistreated, and harmed even in medical spaces that are intended to support their health — it’s no wonder there’s a sense of mistrust in the institution as a whole.

It’s impossible to touch on every way this kind of mistrust impacts women, but consider a few: Black women are less likely to seek out preventative care in medical offices, were less trustful of vaccine campaigns during COVID-19, hold an inherent fear of mistreatment during large medical events like childbirth in doctors’ offices, and routinely struggle to find a doctor that they trust when they need one.

They’re not only less likely to seek care early when they struggle, but they’re also less likely to be treated fairly when they do. It’s an unfortunate cycle of ignorance that plagues women's lives.


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.