Thursday, May 12, 2005

Women's Reproductive Healthcare, or "Stay Away from Me Doctor!"

This article,Procedure On Women In Labor Adds Risk, on the often needless procedure of episiotimies, is a little dated; however, it is still important to raise the issue of women and reproductive healthcare. I know THE DOCTOR told a lady I know very well, every time she had a kid (and she had five), she had to have an episiotomy. He told her,"It will be better in the long run," when she specifically asked him not to do an episiotomy (after she was experienced at the whole child birth thing). He did this even though she told him that was the hardest part of recovering from child birth. "It's better than tearing," he said. She's going to be a nurse now, so she'll get her revenge on THE DOCTOR uninformed on women's reproductive healthcare, and hopefully help out some other women.

But another significant and irreversible problem with the reproductive healthcare women receive is, "if there is a problem, solve it with a hysterectomy." Take it all out! It is so overprescribed for women with a very hard recovery since it is major, invasive surgery. And, again, irreversible. There are cheaper, less invasive, ways to deal with many of the problems women have, rather than just taking it all out. I know another very strong woman who was prescribed by her DOCTOR to have a hysterectomy. She said "no," and I'm going to get a second opinion. She was in her middle 30s, and still has her uterus.

*I have had good experiences with the women's health doctors at McKinley.

18 Comments:

At 9:48 PM, Blogger laura said...

Erin, as I read your post I tried to imagine pregnancy as something only males experience, and I wondered how cavalier doctors would then be about taking a knife and slashing openings in the male genitalia (because "it will be better in the long run"), or how anxious doctors would be to just yank off the whole -um- package to keep from having to hear petty complaints about monthly bouts with pain. This line of thought reminded me of something I received a long time ago - a piece attributed to Gloria Steinem and entitled "If Men Could Menstruate". I found it online, so here it is (funny, dated, and yet maddeningly apt):

"A white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking that a white skin makes people superior - even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and to wrinkles. Male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis envy is "natural" to women - though having such an unprotected organ might be said to make men vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb envy at least as logical.
In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.
What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?
The answer is clear - menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event:
Men would brag about how long and how much.
Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties.
Congress would fund a National Institute of Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.
Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. (Of course, some men would still pay for the prestige of commercial brands such as John Wayne Tampons, Muhammad Ali's Rope-a-dope Pads, Joe Namath Jock Shields - "For Those Light Bachelor Days," and Robert "Baretta" Blake Maxi-Pads.)
Military men, right-wing politicians, and religious fundamentalists would cite menstruation ("men-struation") as proof that only men could serve in the Army ("you have to give blood to take blood"), occupy political office ("can women be aggressive without that steadfast cycle governed by the planet Mars?"), be priests and ministers ("how could a woman give her blood for our sins?") or rabbis ("without the monthly loss of impurities, women remain unclean").
Male radicals, left-wing politicians, mystics, however, would insist that women are equal, just different, and that any woman could enter their ranks if she were willing to self-inflict a major wound every month ("you MUST give blood for the revolution"), recognize the preeminence of menstrual issues, or subordinate her selfness to all men in their Cycle of Enlightenment. Street guys would brag ("I'm a three pad man") or answer praise from a buddy ("Man, you lookin' good!") by giving fives and saying, "Yeah, man, I'm on the rag!" TV shows would treat the subject at length. ("Happy Days": Richie and Potsie try to convince Fonzie that he is still "The Fonz," though he has missed two periods in a row.) So would newspapers. (SHARK SCARE THREATENS MENSTRUATING MEN. JUDGE CITES MONTHLY STRESS IN PARDONING RAPIST.) And movies. (Newman and Redford in "Blood Brothers"!)
Men would convince women that intercourse was more pleasurable at "that time of the month." Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself - though probably only because they needed a good menstruating man.
Of course, male intellectuals would offer the most moral and logical arguments. How could a woman master any discipline that demanded a sense of time, space, mathematics, or measurement, for instance, without that in-built gift for measuring the cycles of the moon and planets - and thus for measuring anything at all? In the rarefied fields of philosophy and religion, could women compensate for missing the rhythm of the universe? Or for their lack of symbolic death-and-resurrection every month?
Liberal males in every field would try to be kind: the fact that "these people" have no gift for measuring life or connecting to the universe, the liberals would explain, should be punishment enough.
And how would women be trained to react? One can imagine traditional women agreeing to all arguments with a staunch and smiling masochism. ("The ERA would force housewives to wound themselves every month": Phyllis Schlafly. "Your husband's blood is as sacred as that of Jesus - and so sexy, too!": Marabel Morgan.) Reformers and Queen Bees would try to imitate men, and pretend to have a monthly cycle. All feminists would explain endlessly that men, too, needed to be liberated from the false idea of Martian aggressiveness, just as women needed to escape the bonds of menses envy. Radical feminist would add that the oppression of the nonmenstrual was the pattern for all other oppressions ("Vampires were our first freedom fighters!") Cultural feminists would develop a bloodless imagery in art and literature. Socialist feminists would insist that only under capitalism would men be able to monopolize menstrual blood . . . .
In fact, if men could menstruate, the power justifications could probably go on forever.
If we let them."
("If Men Could Menstruate", attributed to Gloria Steinem)

 
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Nice, that comment was postworthy in and of itself.

 
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