Get ‘Em When They’re Young

29 Aug

[Trigger warning for medical coercion and abuse.]

Headline: “Doctors now recommend teens, age 13-15, visit a gynecologist”.

While gynecologists have always seen teenagers with menstrual problems, there’s a new emphasis on building that early relationship. [. . .]

“People are leery. They think it will require an exam,” [. . .] “It’s really just to establish a relationship where they get to know us. It’s a non-threatening environment.”

This move to reel in younger teen girls to the gynecologist’s office isn’t entirely evil. Road to hell, good intentions, etc. However, this all just works to further normalize the constant medical surveillance of female bodies. It’s bad enough as is, but with earlier – and therefore more frequent – visits, girls hardly have the chance to realize that it is not, in fact, necessary to have doctors regularly inspect your genitals or reproductive organs. Rather, even younger girls will now be instructed to worry about the ticking time bomb that is (supposedly) their bodies. It’s never to early to learn that females are faulty versions of males, right?

As noted in the article, “At the first visit, patients receive a pamphlet explaining what to expect.” Before ever getting a gynecological exam (years before, actually), I panicked regularly about the impending visit. I researched what to expect online and forced myself to think of it as totally normal. I cried reading about women’s accounts of their doctor’s visits (even if it was “normal”/not traumatizing). I cried more when I finally found another young woman on a forum saying that she’s terrified and doesn’t want to go through with it. Responding to her, I wrote how I felt the same way and said how I couldn’t even think of the exam without imaging kicking the doctor across the room. (The reason I was considering getting a gynecological exam at age 15 was because I wanted to go on birth control. The 21 year old man I had been chatting with online said he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get pregnant if we decided to take our “relationship” offline. Nothing ended up happening, thank goodness.) It took me several years before realizing my aversion to these exams wasn’t because I was being “sensitive”; it seemed fucked up because it is fucked up.

Perhaps, at least, these early visits could be used to screen for sexual abuse? This is not on the list of reasons for the visits. These are, though:

“Personal safety, binge drinking and date rape.” Just what every teen girl needs. . . a lecture about how not to be raped!

“Birth control. Most teens using it do so to regulate their periods.” *Het-hem*

“The benefits and safety of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.” Ah, of course.

Merck, the maker of Gardasil, no doubt wants plenty of fresh guinea pigs to sign up for the vaccine. They also are testing the vaccine on girls in India against the competitor’s Cervarix. Why India? It costs less (though, as the linked article describes, it is clearly costing these girls their lives in many, many cases). Here is a very comprehensive article regarding the testing as well as the many risks associated with Gardasil.

These “early visits” are grooming for a life time of interventionist, unnecessary health “screenings” and “check ups”. The HPV-vaccine-pushers will also assure girls that the shots are necessary, because it is presumed that you will be engaging in proper hetero sex (PIV). Lesbian? Asexual? Just don’t want a painis in yourgina? Who cares! Shots for all!

Gynecology never ceases to amaze me in its ability to be the full-package when it comes to patriarchal bullshit.

Related:

CherryBlossomLife on RadFemHub: “Polish Government proposal: Submit to compulsory gynecological examinations, or be fired “ [warning for gynecological illustrations and descriptions of related horrors]

A film called “One More Girl” is in production right now, set to be released in 2012. The documentary will reveal the numerous adverse effects that girls and women have suffered from getting Garasil.

9 Responses to “Get ‘Em When They’re Young”

  1. smash August 29, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Great analysis, Lishra. Grooming for a lifetime of PIV-centric sexuality begins as soon as the period does (and sometimes before). Gross.

    • lishra August 29, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      Thank you, smash. And, yeah… totes gross. The PIV brigade is in full force on every front.

  2. Rainbow Riot August 29, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    While I do not disagree with anything in your post, I would like to point out that women can get HPV from lesbian sex, not just PIV, But of course that doesn’t mean we need to shoot up on dubious vaccines.

    The whole “medicalizing women’s bodies” thing is just awful, and it’s getting worse. I remember that because I am a transplant patient, my doctor wanted me to go on the pill when I was a teenager, because pregnancy is very risky with the drugs I have to take. I was on it for awhile especially because my gyn told me that my periods were irregular and that it would help… but then I began to question whether they were actually irregular. I went off it it, no harm done; in fact by this year my periods are just fine thankyouverymuch. Maybe because I’m like, an adult woman now, or something.

    So over a year ago I walk into my kidney transplant clinic and immediately some researcher comes into the room and tells me I should sign up to be in a research study about how a vaccine effects transplant patients. My parents had signed me up for a research study about transplant patients when I was a kid, and that went fine, so I thought it would be okay. The vaccine? GARDASIL, of course! I didn’t know anything about it at the time, and I’m unfortunately very passive around doctors because I have had to deal with them so much in my life… so I signed the consent form, and they gave me the shot.

    Reading your post made me realize that this is a medical conspiracy spanning all disciplines, not just gynecology. And also that I have been duped.

    • lishra August 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      Thanks for the correction, RainbowRiot! As it is transmitted from skin-to-skin contact, well… obviously it’s quite possible. That was a silly oversight on my part.

      I looked into this, and it actually turns out that women who have never had sex with a male *are* a lot less likely to get HPV though. From this study:

      “By use of a combined risk index that incorporated both time to last sex with a male partner and number of lifetime male partners, subjects in the highest two risk strata (i.e., time to last sex with male ≤2 years, regardless of lifetime number of male partners) were about five times more likely than women who had never had sex with men to have detectable HPV DNA“.

      Having sexual contact involving a penis at some point definitely does increase your chances of acquiring HPV… and five times as likely is kind of a lot, isn’t it?

      And thank you for your comment otherwise, as well. I’m sorry to hear about you being put into a Gardasil trial without really knowing what was what. I hope that you are in better health these days.

  3. dlb2 August 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    As an Australian woman, I was very concerned when I heard ACOG where calling for very young girls to attend every year for an exam, “that will probably not include a pelvic exam”…
    Who could trust these people with their appalling track record?
    Call me a cynic, but this new guideline came out after pap testing guidelines were scaled back (loss of income) – they initially pushed for women to keep going in for annual bimanual pelvic and breast exams, but knowing that more women are onto that useless and harmful farce, they’ve thought up a new income-generating idea.

    Notice…they never include clinical evidence backing up the need for these exams. Why? It doesn’t exist, but I can tell you, these exams will harm lots of young girls, mentally and physically. They also couldn’t back up most of their recommendations – they go AGAINST evidence based medicine and are far more likely to harm you.

    We don’t have “routine” pelvic and breast exams, they’re of poor clinical value in symptom-free women and they expose you to RISK. Your Dr Carolyn Westhoff mentions this in one of her recent articles – she suspects (and so do I) that these exams are partly responsible for your VERY high hysterectomy rates (1 in 3 of you will have one by age 60) and other gyn procedures (removing healthy ovaries) and 95% of you will be referred after an “abnormal” pap test ( for a cancer with a lifetime risk of 0.65%!) – this massive over-detection and over-treatment is caused by serious over-screening and inappropriate screening (screening those under 30, too often and including groups like women not yet sexually active, women who’ve had full hysterectomies for benign conditions, the elderly, terminally ill etc)

    Following ACOG’s recommendations will lead you to one place: day procedure or surgery and many women are left worse off after unnecessary procedures: with LEEP and cone biopsies – cervical incompetence, cervical stenosis, infertility, miscarriages, premature babies, more c-sections, psych issues, endometriosis etc

    I hope parents at least do some serious reading before they produce their precious daughters – this is nothing more than “grooming” the next generation of women – income producing assets for the medical profession.
    It saddens me that so many women need this false reassurance every year – the healthy female body does not need this level of surveillance and scrutiny – it’s harmful and unnecessary.

    If women want pap testing and look at your risk profile first – very few women benefit from pap tests, while huge numbers end up worried sick and over-treated after false positives – look at the Finnish program – it provides some protection for the vast majority of women, the more than 99% who’ll never have an issue with this cancer – they offer 5 to 7 tests, 5 yearly from age 30 – they refer far fewer women.

    It’s also clear that many women could simply have a HPV test at age 30 and if negative for high risk HPV and in a monogamous relationship, could forget pap testing. (a blood test is available)
    As a low risk woman, I’ve always declined pap testing and recently rejected breast screening, due to concerns about over-diagnosis and the so-called benefits appear dubious and controversial to me.

    When I first read of these well-woman exams, I was shocked and the stirrups – how demeaning! – they’re not used in Australia or the UK either, except in surgery or during some procedures – it all smacks of power, control and disrespect to me.
    I cannot imagine the vulnerability, discomfort/pain and violation that must be experienced over and over throughout your lives – it must destroy the quality of life for many women – even those who bravely state it’s for their health, have had to go through some psychological gymnastics to get to that point. Your health forums are full of fear, embarrassment, dread, anger, pain, suffering, abuse….this is NOT healthcare – it’s power and control and the systematic abuse of women. Also, factor in coercion – regularly used against women in the States and Canada – IF you don’t agree to these useless exams and ELECTIVE screening tests, many of your doctors misuse their prescriptive powers and refuse you the Pill, HRT, migraine meds etc and sometimes, all medical carel. (non-emergency care)

    This latest move is to desensitize young girls, so they have more compliant women into the future….just disgusting.
    We have our problems too, but not as bad…nowhere near.
    This sort of article helps, it raises awareness and hopefully, will make some women stop and think…
    I see change happening in the States, with more doctors and others fighting for the ethical treatment of women. Now more women need to challenge doctors, take action against coercion (make a formal complaint, speak to a lawyer etc) and demand their right to make informed decisions about cancer screening and to decline unnecessary exams.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703584804576144161119909004.html
    (Dr Carolyn Westhoff and routine pelvic exams)
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/22/us-birth-control-idUSTRE6AL67X20101122
    http://www.managingcontraception.com/newsevents/dr-bob/pelvic-exam-necessary-for-contraception-rx/

  4. dlb2 August 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Forgot a couple of references:
    There is an article produced FOR doctors – it states that no country has shown a reduction in the incidence of or the mortality from cervical cancer in women under 30, irrespective of cervical screening. Also, at the end it’s stated that a negative test for high risk HPV at age 30 could mean many women could forget pap testing…those in monogamous relationships or no longer sexually active. These women are only tested into the future “in case” their risk profiles change – I regard this as paternalistic, when testing carries risk, it should be the woman’s decision – give us ALL of the information we need to make the best decision for our level of risk. Those who test positive who wish to test, could have far fewer pap tests – that would reduce the risk of a false positive and over-treatment.
    It’s online, a download….

    Also, on the rarity of the cancer, take a look at this article by Dr Angela Raffle, UK screening expert. (this doctor’s research also says that 1 in 3 pap tests will be abnormal in women under 25 (1 in 14 for older women) – false positives caused by transient and harmless infections or by the pap picking up normal changes in the maturing cervix.) Dr Raffle concludes it is unethical to test women under 25. (I’d say 30)
    Women can get an “abnormal” pap test for lots of things – inflammation, irritation (condoms, tampons), hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause) trauma (childbirth) and normal changes that occur in young and post/menopausal women. Cervical cancer is rare, so if you want to have pap tests, don’t overdo it!

    Beware of mammograms as well – consider the risks and benefits.
    Prof Michael Baum, UK breast cancer surgeon, is calling for the UK program to be scrapped after more damning evidence appeared recently – the decline in the death rate from breast cancer is about better treatments, and not screening. Screening may be risk for no or little benefit.

    “Cervical cancer screening” in “Australian Doctor” July 2006 by Assoc Prof Margaret Davy, Director, Gyn-oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital and Dr Shorne, GP.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC153831/
    and, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/02/breast-cancer-screening?INTCMP=SRCH (the link to the research in the BMJ is in comment 3 or 4)
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2009/07/29/pap-tests-young-women.html (I don’t agree that pap tests are responsible for the decline in the incidence and death rate from cc – they may be ONE factor, but this rare cancer was in natural decline before testing started and there are no randomized controlled trials for pap testing, so we’ll never know for sure whether they help anyone, but if they do, after taking out false negatives and considering these other factors – fewer than 0.45% could be helped. The other factors: more hysterectomies, better condoms and hygiene, fewer women smoking, less STD etc)
    The best unbiased summary for breast screening is, “The risks and benefits of mammograms” at the website of the Nordic Cochrane Institute.
    Prof Michael Baum and his latest lecture at UCL, “Breast cancer screening: the inconvenient truths” – Utube.
    Good luck everyone….

    • whitevalkyrie1988 April 21, 2012 at 2:40 am #

      I am totally opposed to gynecology in and of itself- “womanology”, it means. Do men have to go to the andrologist? Or is it just women, with their wacky, fucked up bodies.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bachmann, HPV Vaccines, & Female Credibility | Radfem Hub - September 16, 2011

    [...] women refuse Pap tests, hospital birth, or other questionable medical intervention, they are accused of acting childish and not taking their health seriously. In reality, it’s [...]

  2. Bachmann, HPV Vaccines, & Female Credibility « Liberation Collective - May 28, 2012

    [...] women refuse Pap tests, hospital birth, or other questionable medical intervention, they are accused of acting childish and not taking their health seriously. In reality, it’s [...]

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