I got a quarterly magazine in the mail today from a large medical organization in our area. I deleted all the identifying information, but here is an image of the article:
My problem is with the yellow highlighted section. Here is my response I mailed in to the doctor who wrote this article:
Dear Dr. ***,
I don’t intend to come across as angry or rude, but I must admit that I was a bit discouraged with an item in your article “It Takes 2”, and I feel obliged to respond. You suggest that the first thing you should discuss with your OB/GYN is whether you “are on the correct contraceptive for your lifestyle.” This assumes that all women are either on or should be on some sort of contraceptive, and that it’s as versatile, normal, and fleeting as choosing the right dress or vehicle that “suits your lifestyle.”
Contraception is not a medical necessity for women (in the majority of cases), nor should it be taken lightly when it’s prescribed. Women should be educated first and foremost about the natural and healthy rhythm of their menstrual cycles. We should not be made to feel like it is normal for us to prohibit our reproductive organs from operating like they should. Contraception is an elective drug and, in my opinion, does not belong at the very top of the checklist of things to discuss with your OB/GYN. A more suitable replacement could be “menstrual cycle” or “reproduction.” Why don’t we see these itemized anywhere, as those are two universal items that all women deal with and, at least to me, are really important? Many people actually WANT to have babies in the context of responsible sex within healthy relationships, but for some reason we are discouraged bit by bit, even by the seemingly harmless, slightest promotion of contraception in articles such as yours.
In the same way that a PCP might direct someone to change their lifestyle for health benefits by losing weight or cutting back on drinking, smoking, or stress, I would hope that an OB/GYN would help women learn about their bodies and encourage them to manage their sex lives responsibly and conceive within a healthy relationship. By emphasizing contraception right off the bat, you discount that many women may actually have some sense of:
– self control over their sex drives;
– dignity in that they are more than just their ability to have sex whenever their partners may feel like it;
– concern over putting unnecessary drugs in their bodies that may actually cause more harm than good;
– desire for children.
While I know contraception isn’t going anywhere any time soon, it should not be touted as a necessity that all women use or a trend that ebbs and flows with our “lifestyles.” Proper education about the health and purpose of our menstrual cycles, reproductive abilities, and guidance as to whether being sexually active at the moment is really the healthiest option for our stage in life (in the same way guidance as to ceasing smoking or stress may be provided by a PCP) should be at the top of the list before contraception is even mentioned.
As a (Name of Organization) physician, I trust that you are an excellent doctor, and I do not intend for my commentary to be aimed toward your medical practice in particular. I’m confident that on a daily basis, you do have your patients’ best interests in mind. Nevertheless, I do think that it is important to realize the impact, however subtle, these kinds of statements can have on a casual reader. Thank you for taking the time to consider my perspective.
Feel free to leave your comments on this!