I got trust issues with men. Not all men, and not all the time. Still, I got issues.
Example No. 1. About two years ago, I was having horrible periods. They’d last up to three weeks, and sometimes the heavy bleeding and clotting was so bad that it was honestly uncontrollable. One time, I had to go to the airport for work, and in the 45 minutes I was there, the blood filled a tampon, spilled over my pad and started running down my leg. Another time, I couldn’t even drive for an hour without it overflowing everything and staining my car seat. It wasn’t a good time.
That January, I’d gone to my regular family doctor – a man – for my annual exam. He said he would call if there was an abnormal result, but I never got a call. Still, the heavy bleeding continued.
When I had the period that lasted three weeks, I started looking for solutions. I know, I should have looked sooner, but I’m stubborn and I hoped it would go away on its own. I found out about uterine ablation, a process that destroys the uterus. It leaves you unfertile (but I’d somehow managed to leave myself infertile years before), but in return, you get no more periods, or very light ones, for the rest of your menstrual years. As effective as a hysterectomy without the major surgery. Perfect.
So, in April, I made an appointment with an OBGYN who happened to be a woman. And I sat on her exam table, going over my little speech in my head, thinking how I’d tell her how I’d done the research and this is what I want.
Instead, she walks in the room looking at my chart and says, “So, you’re here about the abnormal cells.”
“Yeah, your last pap smear turned up some abnormal uterine cells on your cervix. We really need to figure out what that is, because it could be a sign of cancer.”
There it was, the C word. I might have it. And worse, I might have known about it four months ago, except my doctor never told me.
A horrible month followed until my D&C was scheduled. I spent every night of that month researching abnormal epithelial cells and endometrial cancer online. I learned a lot. But instead of reassuring me, it only made me more afraid. Cancer.
I finally had my surgery, which was basically an abortion without a fetus. They went in and scraped me clean and a week later, gave me my result: uterine hyperplasia. The OBGYN explained it could be a precursor to cancer, though it wasn’t as dangerous as a diagnosis of atypical hyperplasia would have been.
I eventually told my family doctor all had gone down. “Huh,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I didn’t think it was anything.”
I have kept him as my regular doctor because he takes time with his patients, answers all your questions and doesn’t condescend – except for that one thing. I think he’s a good doctor in every other respect. I just can’t trust him as far as women’s health goes.
I don’t know that I’ll ever completely trust a male doctor with that again. I just don’t think a lot of them get it.
And that was just me and just one doctor and just one situation. You don’t have to look far to find a woman who says doctors overlooked her symptoms, or wrote them off as exaggeration, or perhaps worse, recommended removing all her genitals for the slightest cause.
Years ago, an OBGYN told my mother she needed a total hysterectomy for fibroid tumors. He had signed her up for surgery, and she had to fight with the insurance company to get a second opinion. And her opinion? A hysterectomy was totally uncalled for and only served to fatten the first doctor’s wallet.
Yeah, so. Some things, I just don’t trust to a man.
- Learning About the Stages of Uterine Cancer (everydayhealth.com)
- PCOS and Endometrial Cancer Risk (everydayhealth.com)
- Hysterectomy rates drop as women learn their options (mercurynews.com)
- Self Quiz: are you at risk for Uterine Cancer? (drsusansolutions.wordpress.com)