Gendering Science

There’s a doc I consulted in Delhi – this fantastic older woman who, post-retirement at the top of her field in India, is an active researcher and clinician. She’d seen me first when I was in college and she was the Head of Neurology at NIMHANS, then when I was in Delhi and she moved there to consult at Sir Gangaram’s, and again now, when I went there in the hols. She put me on Clobazam for three days a month in addition to my regular medication because she suspected a link between the onset of menstruation and seizures, and today I decided to see what I could find online about that.

First, there’s a name for it: catamenial epilepsy. And it’s a well-documented, well-known link in the case of temporal lobe epilepsy. The diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy was made, in my case, six years ago. But no one even thought of relating my episodes with my periods. And even my fantastic doctor in Delhi, only mentioned the possibility on my second visit to her.

Ask any woman and she’ll tell you that periods are stressful. Not just the famed hormonal fluctuations that cause PMS, but physically stressful, because they involve a loss of blood and bodily tissue. And all my doctors, every single one, identified stress as the most probable reason for seizures. But not one thought to connect a regular stressor like menstruation to the seizures.

I remember an article in the Hindu some time ago – on how gendered science is. It had an interesting anecdote on how the painkillers used during childbirth were tested on healthy young men for side effects. And while I know this doesn’t seem to be the same, in a rather weird way, it is.


One Response

  1. […] 2007 Greer, Pratchett, and what science ignores Posted by erimentha under Uncategorized  I wrote earlier today of how science ignores women and their reality, in the context of discovering what I have may be […]

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