"SHE'S doing it for attention. Just ignore her and she'll stop."

I must have been about nine or 10 the first time a doctor dismissed my symptoms. It was all in my head. Actually, it really was all in my head.

I had been diagnosed with migraines at the age of six but this one, its gloves on, trying to pummel a way out of my skull, required a house call from the GP. Perhaps he was irritated at being called out, who knows.

I so vividly remember lying on the sofa while he gave his diagnosis to my mother. There was no room in my beleaguered brain for indignation, the pain taking up all space.

"I had a brain haemorrhage," said another GP. "Just lie in a darkened room and ride the storm." I was teenager asking for migraine pain relief and not expecting to be met with competition.

"I'll prescribe you wafers instead of tablets but they're very expensive, so try not to take them." Were it that easy, doc.

Babylon, a widely used virtual GP app, uses an algorithm to identify health problems. Even this artificial intelligence (AI) shows sex bias: a 60-year-old female smoker reporting sudden chest pain and nausea is told she is likely having a panic attack. A male of the same profile and symptoms is advised to go to A&E as he may be having a heart attack.

The woman, she'll be told, should contact her GP within six hours if she doesn't feel any better.

Belittling and minimising women's pain is a tradition, passed down a venerable line from the days of hysteria as an official diagnosis, a neurological disorder occurring in the womb. Endometriosis, aortic aneurysms, dementia - women are under-treated and misdiagnosed. When in pain, women are more likely to be given a sedative medication, not the painkillers men receive.

Doctors and nurses both prescribe less pain medication to women than men post-surgery, despite women reporting more severe pain levels.

Women are more likely to be told their pain is psychosomatic. That hysteria again.

Around the age of 14, pain started up in my lower back and left side. I would be fine for weeks on end and then feel the twinges I knew would become showstopping, flaming pain. Worse and worse and worse.

Growing pains, my GP said. Hypochondria, my GP said. A pulled muscle, have some physiotherapy, my GP said. Finally, at the age of 17, crippled with pain and featherweight from nausea, off for an x ray.

A kidney stone. Not just any kidney stone, but a big beast, a brute, a staghorn stone pushing its horns into delicate flesh. I needed surgery and a round of lithotripsy - shock waves to break the rest of the stone down.

It was the sort of pain you submit to, respect almost for its unapologetic brutality. Flashes of nights lying on the living room floor writhing and yelling with pain as my poor mum's worried, helpless face appeared in my peripheral vision. Nothing wrong, said the GP. Nothing wrong.

Biases are highlighted in the feminist journalist Caroline Criado-Perez's recent book Invisible Women where she talks of the fact public health campaigning alerts adults to the signs of heart attack using the 'classic' symptoms, which are only relevant to heart attacks in males. The symptoms in females differ but we don't know about them because we are not told about them.

There is a glaring gender divide in how patients are treated. Women are more likely to ignore their symptoms and battle on, and they are taken less seriously by GPs. A Yale University study found women are less likely to seek help for a heart attack because they worried about being perceived as hypochondriacs.

They worry about being seen to be over-reacting or being too pushy - trying to do the doctor's job for them.

A new study from the University of Edinburgh, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), has found that men receive better heart attack treatment than women, even when diagnosis rates are the same. Women, a clinical trial found, were about half as likely as men to receive recommended heart attack treatments.

The research follows a recent BHF briefing that found more than 8000 women in England and Wales have died needlessly from heart attacks over the past 10 years due to a failure to treat male and female patients equally. The charity blames, in part, unconscious biases in the delivery of healthcare.

I have not been without kidney stones since my teenage years and the pain comes and goes, although never as bad the staghorn. For more than 10 years I've had six monthly check ups at urology, and disbelief or minimisation from consultants is the absolute standard.

For a while I had a consultant who would terminate our meeting after a few minutes by standing at the consulting room door with one hand on the door handle. Once, she opened the door while I was asking a question about my medication. The people in the two lines of chairs in the waiting room became a part of my appointment. I should have taken their opinion, it might have been more useful.

Of course, I never complained, despite composing reams of letters in my head. And I never complained because I empathised. NHS under strain. Doctors stressed under horrendous workloads. I don't want to be a bother.

I do not want to be a bother and other people are much worse off than I am. Lacking the confidence to advocate for your own healthcare or worrying about being a burden are not useful traits within an under-resourced, stressed healthcare system.

You have to shout and women are never socialised to shout.

To see how women's health concerns are undermined see the shameful mesh scandal and hear the testimonies of women repeatedly told their very real symptoms were all in the mind. Look at the delays to the diagnosis of endometriosis - seven to 10 years to be taken seriously and given relief.

There is no suggestion that doctors deliberately minimise their female patients' health concerns. The problem is ingrained, structural unconscious biases and a health system that has, as pointed out by the BHF and Criado-Perez, used the male body as a default for research and treatment.

Believe women, should be another default because this doubt does us harm.