It’s Time to Stop Ignoring Women’s Health — Learn Patient Advocacy

As I was scrolling through Twitter, I came across a CBC article about the lack of appreciation of the pain caused to women during the insertion of birth control devices. In reading other women’s experiences, I jumped in and shared my own stories of not receiving pain management for extremely painful procedures.

It quickly became apparent that I’m not alone in going through unnecessary pain.

Despite the shared experience, women’s health still doesn’t receive the recognition or attention it deserves. It’s time to stop ignoring women’s health.

When I wrote my first book, Bed Rest Mom , I was warned that it wouldn’t sell many copies. Why? Because there’s little shelf space in bookstores, and even less interest in promoting books about women’s health.

I thought my book would be different. Afterall, it was the first book ever written in Canada about home and hospital-based pregnancy bed rest. And with up to 20% of women being put on some form of bed rest during their pregnancy, there were thousands of women my book could help as they navigated this lonely and isolating time.

Sadly, I was wrong and the sceptics were right.

Four years after Bed Rest Mom was released, it’s sold less than 200 copies. Despite being published by a large Canadian book publisher (not self-published) and available internationally.

Good thing I wrote Bed Rest Mom out of a passion to help others, not to earn money.

Going back to my painful experiences of having a procedure without pain management, there’s a common theme — lack of prioritization for gynecologists in hospitals and ambulatory care. With each painful procedure, I was given the option of having it done in office (without adequate pain management) or to not have it done at all.

Each time, the gynecologist apologized for the discomfort (which was actually excruciating pain), and said the healthcare system just doesn’t provide the space and resources that is needed for women’s health. These are gynecologists in different parts of Canada, not just one under resourced province.

Unnecessary pain

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let me share (skipping the gory details) a couple of the procedures.

After giving birth to my child, it was discovered I had retained placenta a few weeks after my c-section. The gynecologist removed the placenta in office, without any form of pain medication. It was still attached to the uterus!!

As I screamed in pain, I was told to stop wiggling. She had no choice but to get it out. I spent the next 3 days curled up in bed in terrible pain, while trying to care for my baby. Pain that could’ve been prevented if I’d been able to have the procedure done in hospital.

I’ve also had a couple of biopsies done in office, with once again, no pain management. Same response — I know it’s uncomfortable but gynecologists are not provided hospital space for what are considered routine procedures, despite the fact they are painful.

This is especially true in rural communities. Women are given the option of being put on a long waitlist for a gynecologist in another city, or get the procedure over with in their own community — sucking up the pain, no matter how bad.

Time for a change

So, what will it take for women’s health to get the attention it deserves?

We need more women in leadership positions. Women who have first-hand experience. Women who can make decisions about women’s health instead of leaving the decision making to men.

We only need to look at what’s happening in the United States to see how horribly bad things can go for women’s health when men are the primary decision makers.

Women also need to stand up and share their stories . Write letters, get involved in the conversation, and vote for progressive politicians. We must shed a light on what’s happening, and say enough is enough.

We also need to educate doctors, health administrations and decision makers on the true pain caused (emotional and physical) of this barbarian practice of withholding pain management.

As a mom of a young daughter, I will keep shining the spotlight on women’s health, in hopes she gets better medical care than I’ve received.

Who knows? I might even write another book that a couple hundred people will read.

Originally published at https://learnpatientadvocacy.com on June 15, 2022.

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