September 19, 2011

10 Things I Learned in Ob-Gyn

1. body language matters.  for ob-gyn's, where you stand before, during, and after an exam makes a huge difference in the comfort of the patient. Pushing your naked butt forward while your feet are in stirrups towards someone you can't see who you know is about to use a speculum is so much more nerve-racking than someone standing beside you and saying, please scootch down until you feel like you're about to fall off the table - THEN going to the bottom of the table.
2. my body does strange things when it has to be awake for too many hours.
3. no one fully understands menopause.  It's one of the great frontiers of women's health that we have only barely begun to brush the surface of - but the good news is that there is a ton of interest in topics in  menopause because women are living at least 1/3 of their lives after menopause now.
4. women are not just like men.  for example, when women have heart attacks, they rarely get chest pain.  they are much more likely to get jaw pain.  science and medicine are just barely adjusting.
5. women are not so different from men.
6. say what you want, seeing a baby be born and especially helping a baby be born is one of the most incredible magical miraculous things in the entirety of existence.
7. if birth control access were truly universal - meaning that women would come in to get it, would be able to take it well (so we would be able to give them whatever kind they would actually use), and that women would follow-up regularly, there would be fewer unintended pregnancies, fewer women who have children when it's not a good time for them to have children or when they really can't handle having children, fewer abortions, and that would translate into everything being just a little bit better.
8. we have to talk about sex.  it's too much of a health issue to have your doctor not talk about it.
9. lots of cancer is preventable, yet people are either embarrassed or too busy to do the things.  Get pap smears. Get mammograms.  If you are a guy, encourage your mother/sister/friends/wife/girlfriend to get regular screening tests.
10. surgery is freaking cool.

"Hello babies.  Welcome to the Earth.  It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  It's round and wet and crowded.  At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here.  There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind"
-Kurt Vonnegut, in Thanks You Mrs. Rosewater

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