What is Yentl syndrome? Or when medicine is sexist

Today, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among women. However, the latter continue to suffer from low-cost care, undermined by the sexist prejudices of the medical profession.

Are women less well looked after than men? Spoiler: the answer is yes. Numerous studies show that patients too often suffer from the sexist prejudices of the medical profession, which hinder their adequate care. It has a name: Yentl syndrome. Explanations.

Where does the name of the syndrome come from?

The name of the syndrome, Yentl, is inspired by the heroine of a novel by Isaac Bashevish Singer, published in 1962, then adapted for the cinema in 1983 with Barbra Streisand in the protagonist role. Yentl is a young Jewish woman, who, in 1904, has to disguise herself as a boy to follow a Talmudic education, reserved for men. This story illustrates a case of differential treatment based on gender. And that’s why Yentl syndrome is called that.

To whom do we owe the discovery of this syndrome?

We owe the theorization of this syndrome to the American cardiologist Bernardine Healy. As told by the Swiss medical journal, it was in 1991 that the researcher “showed the existence of a sexist bias: in cases of acute coronary syndrome, women were hospitalized less often than men.” This prejudice is also observed, which sometimes fatally harms women “in the management of pneumonia, heart failure and arrhythmias, implantation of defibrillators, treatment of HIV with AZT, investigations in cases of stroke, joint replacements and kidney transplants” notes the Swiss magazine.

As noted by Belgian Cardiological League, cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death among women today. This is why it is essential to free ourselves from these sexist prejudices to ensure better patient care. Why, “While women share many risk factors with men, some are more specific to women or have a different translation in a woman.”

See also: What is Mediterranean syndrome?

What are the consequences of this syndrome?

Infantilization, disinterest in the ailments of the female body, minimization of pain, reference to a psychological factor, sense of guilt... Women are regularly subjected to documented mistreatment by a medical profession steeped in sexist preconceptions. This is what the impactful essay demonstrates Hippocrates' patients (edited by Philippe Rey), journalists Maud Le Rest and Eva Tapiero. Because they are hysterical, anxious, hypochondriac or even too sensitive, women and their health are still not taken seriously.. This translates into enormous delays in medical research on the pathologies that concern them, but also sometimes fatal delays in diagnosis (particularly for heart attacks or autism), or even dramatic medical errors.

Always according to Belgian Cardiological League, “This sexist bias begins at the level of medical studies and clinical trials where the female population is often underrepresented, raising the question of the validity or effectiveness of some treatments in women.”

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Source: Madmoizelle

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