All In Her Head by Dr Elizabeth Comen - The Truth and Lies About Women’s Health.

The Truth and Lies About Women’s Health.

“All in Her Head” by Dr. Elizabeth Comen is a Compelling, Thought-provoking and Enraging Read.

“For as long as medicine has been a practice, women’s bodies have been treated like objects to be practiced on; examined, subjugated, mutilated and dismissed,” reads the flyleaf of the eye-opening new book, “All in Her Head” by Dr. Elizabeth Comen

A Memorial Sloan Ketterling oncologist and medical historian, Dr. Coman dives into the medical history of women by following the roadmap of the eleven organ systems taught in medical school, sharing stories about how historical medical opinions about women’s bodies have informed and still inform medical opinions about women’s health today. 

All in Her Head will have you simmering within the first few pages, as Dr. Comen in her introduction relates the heartbreaking story of Ellen, a patient dying of breast cancer, who feels compelled – even in her last moments — to apologize for sweating over her doctor. Using a compelling mix of storytelling, scientific research, medical texts and interviews with expert physicians, Dr. Comen seeks to enlighten and empower women to understand their bodies and advocate for their care. 

For instance, in the chapter entitled Bones, Comen shares the terrible tale of Mary Ashberry, an achondroplastic dwarf who died in childbirth, only to have her and her child’s skeletons bleached and put on display in a museum as an object of curiosity. 

In Blood, we hear how Victorian-age physicians labelled anemia experienced by young women as chlorosis, a condition that alternatively (depending on the doctor and point in history) was caused by “the filthy blood of menses,” “ungratified sexual desire” or “malnutrition.” 

In Breath, we learn that in the 1700s and 1800s the characteristics of tuberculosis were twinned with society’s ideas of beauty. 

Through the rest of the chapters Bladder, Defense, Nerves, Hormones and Sex, Dr. Comen’s captivating stories, drawn from history and medical texts paired with her modern-day knowledge of medicine will have your jaw dropping and your temperature rising. 

Women make up 50 percent of the world’s population and yet, gender inequality in healthcare continues to be a shocking state of affairs. Women continue to die prematurely of preventable diseases due to a lack of screening. The patriarchy still dominates care, research and policy-making. Women continue to experience medical gaslighting, with doctors attributing their concerns to stress, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Women undergoing surgery are more likely to experience negative outcomes including fatal consequences. Finally, women are more inclined to have negative drug interactions and be overmedicated than their male counterparts because women have only been included in drug trials since the early 1990s. 

Run — don’t walk — to pick up your copy of “All in Her Head” today. This thought-provoking and insightful book is a must-read for every woman, anyone who knows a woman, and every student of medicine.