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Media Kit

The Plight of Women In Pain

Various studies have found that women are more likely to suffer from chronic pain diseases, suffer more severe pain and tolerate pain less well than men. Despite a growing body of information about chronic pain, however, many women still report that doctors often dismiss their pain as being “hormonal” or “all in their head.” Too often, the recommended treatment is sedatives and referrals for psychiatric counseling. In short, women hurt more and are helped less.

It is estimated that more than 60 million U.S. women are challenged daily with persistent pain. Without proper medical management, this pain often leads to a lifetime of physical and emotional distress, disability, financial ruin, social isolation and depression. Suicide is common among women with severe pain.

For Grace is dedicated to addressing this disturbing trend by empowering women to become better advocates for their pain care, informing the public and media about the gender disparity in pain treatment and educating policy makers about chronic pain as a major national health crisis.

Our founder and spokesperson, Cynthia Toussaint, was left bedridden for a decade and unable to speak for five years because she was told by her doctors her pain was not real. She has survived many challenging auto-immune diseases for 41 years in order to tell her story for those who do not have a voice.

Also, For Grace has assembled a Women in Pain Action Team, comprised of pain experts who can speak about the gender disparity issue from a personal, clinical and research perspective.

Chronic Pain Fact Sheet

  • Chronic pain is pain that lasts for months or years as a result of a chronic condition or lingers more than the usual recovery period for an illness. This includes common medical problems such as arthritis and migraines as well as conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, fibromyalgia, Interstitial Cystitis and Lupus.
  • Chronic pain causes sufferers to endure many hardships including loss of work or forced disability leave from work, loss of mobility and independence, strain on personal relationships and psychological stress.
  • According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Each year, Americans lose $600+ billion due to reduced productivity, sick time and medical costs associated with chronic pain (Institute of Medicine, “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research”, June 2011)
  • Chronic pain plagues people from all walks of life; however, women are statistically most prone to illnesses involving chronic pain. Despite the multitudes who suffer, women face a gender bias in pain treatment and management, remaining conspicuously under-diagnosed.
  • According to a 2001 landmark study published in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, titled “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Their Pain”, women’s pain reports are taken less seriously than men’s and they receive less aggressive treatment for their pain.


From For Grace’s Women In Pain Petition

“If I had a nickel for every time I was told the pain was in my head or that I must be stressed or depressed, I would be rich instead of on the verge of losing my house.”
—Deborah Bernardy, #4376

“When suicide becomes a woman’s best option for treating her pain, there is clearly a problem with the system. Chronic pain shouldn’t be fatal!”
—Susan Tagliano, #5360

“I suffer from pain because of a bone disease and can’t get help. I now treat myself with vodka at night before bed.”
—Darlina Anthony, #2854

“My doctor refused to see me because I brought in a book and asked questions.”
—Connie Brown, #2762

“If I am in complete desperate pain, I know not to seek help until I get my emotions under control or I will be told my crying is a symptom of emotional distress, not true physical need.”
—Tristin Belvedere, #2917

“As a nurse and health professional who has suffered with pain for years, I know firsthand women are treated ineffectively, often for their complaints of pain.”
—Mary Pat Conley, RN, BSN, #938

“Because I advocate for myself, I’ve been labeled, dismissed and even told to “get the hell out” by male practitioners. My pain remains untreated and suffering is now my life.”
—Glenda Lee Medira, #6005

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