Today I went to the gyno. It wasn’t that kind of a visit, thankfully (women, you can uncross your sympathetic legs). Today I went to the gyno to convince her to give me an IUD.
I am one of the most informed 18 year old girls you (as a gyno) could get. I have sexuality and sexual health education training and I work at an organisation where I learn about women’s health. I know a lot about all this stuff. This is to say, when I express concerns about some of the more traditional forms of contraception, it does not come from ignorance or hearsay. I can speak doctor speak, to an extent. I’m not fluent and sometimes I mix up tenses or whatever, but that comes from a divide between me and them.
That divide I find can be hard for doctors. As I recently said to my mother during an episode of ER “No wonder they get a complex; with internship and residency, doctors only see other doctors for years!”. I hesitate to make an sweeping generalizations, but I can see how the kind of environment of learning that doctors participate in could breed a very tight team mentality. This doesn’t mean they’re not good doctors. It just means sometimes, when you are not a doctor, you have to be firm about what you want.
Here’s what I mean. When I said IUD, my doctor pursed her lips.
“If you want me to put one in, I will do it. But I’m not sure I’d recommend it.”
She then went on a bender detailing the various scary side-effects possibly associated with said form of birth control. That’s ok; it’s her job to tell me about the risks. She went to medical school and I have not. But after a few minutes of listening to “possibility of constant pain” and “There’s concern about the tubes” and feeling the blood drain from my face, I was about to throw myself at her, sobbing “give me the pill! I’m sure I’ll be better at taking it this time and I won’t get any side-effects!” It was enough to make me seriously rethink leaving my mother in the waiting room.
I am an expert on me, and I had to pull myself together to say NO, new memory tools like stickers would not help with the pill, and NO I do NOT want to stick a patch on my ass for weeks at a time and I really don't want the side effects that hormonal method give me. Thanks anyway. Is an IUD really so bad? I know people who have them, and it’s A-OK. Also, what other choice do I have?
She seemed to think that was ok and was done discussing and went a made me up an appointment and a prescription. I was still barely breathing. I was worried about the infertility I would apparently be faced with if I went ahead with this. When she returned I stammered something about how likely it was that my “tubes” would be “compromised”.
She sighed and backed down a bit, once I’d made my choice. The main concerns, she explained to me, are Chlamydia and Gonorrhea climbing up the IUD and to my tubes. If I use condoms, and don’t have too many partners, I should be fine. I breathed a big sigh of relief and walked away on my shaking legs. Minutes later I’ll realize C&G can cause infertility all on their own, it's not all the IUD's fault. And I calmed down more.
I think I have made the right decision for me. I just wish I didn’t feel like I’ve opted to walk a tightrope unassisted when a sturdy bridge is available. Also, sidenote, if IUD is not so medically accepted, why are there not other non-hormonal options available for young women? Why must we pump ourselves full of hormones that may not mess up our tubes but can have other, potentially awful, side effects?
Leaving the doctor, my mother suggested I try celibacy.
Tomorrow will hopefully be better -- I'm heading to see Stella/Andrea at Irene's. A last show before I hit the road back east. I leave one week today.