Are women treated as "walking uteruses?"
It was nearly a half-century ago that science uncovered just how harmful drugs could be to a developing fetus. The threat--thalidomide. I don't even know what thalidomide is, save for the phrase from the Billy Joel song We Didn't Start the Fire, but my parents certainly did, as did the rest of the nation who discovered they were poisoning their unborn children by taking the drug. Today, the environment is decidedly different. We live in a world where information of all kinds is at our fingertips (whether true or not is another matter). The Internet and, frankly, women entering the working world have given us control over knowledge, specifically with what can or does happen to our bodies. We as women, and as the world, know more about conception, pregnancy and birth than we ever did before. So do our doctors. They also know what can go wrong, and seem to take every chance possible to ensure something terrible doesn't happen to an unborn child.
The result? Many women feel like they're nothing more than a "walking uterus" or some ovaries. They feel that doctors forget to treat the whole patient because they're so focused on the damage that could be done by, say, taking a certain medication, if the woman happens to be pregnant (whether she knows it or not). They consider the woman "pre-pregnant." Of course doctors are trying to save and preserve lives. They're also trying to avoid malpractice or other kinds of suits. What they might be missing out on, though, is that a woman is in control of her body. She can avoid getting pregnant if she wants to--especially in order to take a certain medication. Yes, there is the slight chance that she doesn't know she is pregnant, but that's a risk the medical profession might have to be willing to take in order to treat women patients fairly.
This past winter I got strep throat REALLY BAD. (Actually, it's ALWAYS really bad.) We had not been using protection and so there was a slight possibility I could be pregnant. I told the doctor, rather than him asking me, that it was a possibility, so he prescribed a different kind of medication for me. The point? Well, I took control of the situation instead of having someone do it for me. I was the one who did the talking, was aware of and responsible for what was going on with my body. And you know what? I was pregnant. And now I feel a whole heck of a lot better that I got different medication. But, it was my choice--the doctor didn't make any presuppositions about me (smart man, good doctor).
Pic by zimpenfish.