Women's Healthcare Has Enough Unanswered Questions. Don't Add More.
Just last week I went to the doctor because my period had lasted for over a month. I’d been on birth control since I was seventeen, but I had never experienced something like this. My track record with feminine healthcare has always been a complicated one, filled with unanswered questions. By eight years old I had already started having periods, which were heavy, long, and incredibly painful. My mother, who was blessed with a regular, light, and particularly inobtrusive menses always found what I went through to be unusual.
I can remember her taking me to the doctor after my first period and us both hounding the doctor with questions about why I had my period so young, why it was so heavy, why it was so painful, and a plethora of other inquiries. We had to sit quietly in disbelief when she responded with uncertain answers like “well, this might help a bit, but it won’t get rid of all your pain,” “this might be the reason, but we aren’t sure,” and just plain “I don’t know.”
As I got older, I began developing uterine fibroids and cysts on a regular basis, and yet again, the most common answer I got in regards to what was causing my pain and health problems was simply “I don’t know.” The most supportive experience I had in feminine healthcare was in visiting Planned Parenthood after I had been sexually assaulted. I was vulnerable, afraid, and in need of affordable, non-judgmental healthcare. I wasn’t sure if I was pregnant, but I knew that if I were, I needed to know what resources and options I had. My agency had been taken away, but this step of medical independence helped me regain some of it. I thankfully was not pregnant, but the situation still helped me a great deal. Just during my time talking to the doctor at Planned Parenthood, I had answers to questions about my reproductive health answered, and I was even referred to a healthcare provider who could help me further with the issues I was having.
My experiences having “unanswerable” questions about my body and the way that it works are not uncommon. Every day, women like me who struggle with issues like uterine fibroids and endometriosis are given limited answers and support about their gynecological health and how to improve it. There are still countless medical ailments that women are forced to deal with that have received little to no funding for further research. Clinics and healthcare providers like those at Planned Parenthood are many women’s best hope at finding answers to the problems they are facing. If policies like the Gag Rule that President Trump is working to put in place happen, then even more women like myself will be faced with additional uncertainty and lack of support in a medical world that already gives us too little of it. Everyone deserves the right to know how to take care of their body, and in a world where women already have so few places to learn how, we don’t need to make finding answers harder.