Don’t Settle for Misdiagnosis: 5 Illnesses That Are Too Often Misdiagnosed

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic and/or hormonal disorder that affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age. However, it is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether due to a lack of understanding about the condition among healthcare providers. Symptoms of PCOS can vary widely from person to person, and not all women with the condition have cysts on their ovaries, contrary to popular belief. Many PCOS symptoms, such as weight gain, irregular periods, and acne, are also present in other conditions.

At the frustration of many patients, many doctors focus on weight loss as a treatment for PCOS—without addressing underlying metabolic and hormonal imbalances. And while weight loss can improve symptoms, it is not a cure for PCOS itself, and many women with the condition struggle to lose weight despite their best efforts. This emphasis on weight loss can result in women with PCOS feeling dismissed or blamed for their symptoms. 

Read: What Is PCOS? The Functional Medicine Approach

Breast & Ovarian cancer in young women

Breast and ovarian cancers are also often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, especially in young women. Despite the availability of proactive testing measures such as mammograms and ultrasound, the accuracy of these tests can vary and they may not always detect cancer.

Accurately diagnosing breast cancer can be challenging due to several factors, including the fact that breast tissue can be dense and difficult to differentiate from cancerous tissue on a mammogram. Some types of breast cancer may not present with obvious symptoms, leading to delayed diagnosis in younger women whose presumed risk is low. In some cases, breast cancer may be misdiagnosed as benign breast cysts or dense breast tissue, which can further delay treatment.

Ovarian cancer is also difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms can be vague and mimic other conditions. Only 10-15% of ovarian cancer diagnoses occur in premenopausal women (4). In fact, ovarian cancer is often known as the “silent killer” because it may not present with obvious symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage.

To improve the accuracy of breast and ovarian cancer diagnoses, it is important for women to be aware of any changes in their bodies and to advocate for further testing if necessary. It is also essential for healthcare providers to be educated about the symptoms and risk factors for these cancers, and to take women’s concerns seriously.

Related: The Best Foods for Breast Health

Reproductive women’s health conditions are among the most commonly misdiagnosed

An estimated 1 in 10 women in their reproductive years have PCOS, and yet it can still take as long as two years with three different doctors to receive a diagnosis (5). Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and other reproductive health issues share similar statistics—all the while, patients experience pain, a reduced quality of life, and put their overall health at risk.

These issues can already be tricky to diagnose, but a doctor dismissing pain, or downplaying the root cause can only delay getting you the care you need.

Every day a woman spends searching for a diagnosis is precious time that could be spent healing, and finding the root cause of her illness.

Finding the root cause with functional medicine

Functional medicine takes a holistic approach to women’s healthcare and can help to accurately diagnose women’s health problems. Functional medicine practitioners spend more time with their patients, listening to their concerns and gathering detailed information about their health history. This approach allows for a more personalized diagnosis and treatment plan that takes into account the unique needs of each patient.

Additionally, functional medicine practitioners may use advanced diagnostic testing, such as:

  • Genetic screenings
  • Thermography
  • Inflammation assessment
  • Metabolic analysis
  • Gut function analysis
  • Nutrition status testing

Plus, the support of an integrative team including holistic nutritionists, acupuncturist, health coach, and board certified functional medicine providers all dedicated to your individualized treatment plan.

Treatment options may include nutritional counseling, lifestyle changes, supplements, and medications, as well as integrative therapies such as acupuncture, IV therapy, massage, and stress management techniques. By addressing the underlying causes of women’s health problems and providing personalized, comprehensive care, functional medicine can help to improve outcomes and provide women with the care and support they need to thrive.




Holistic Medicine, hormones

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