If I had a dollar for every time a doctor told me, "You never know what could happen in ten years," regarding reproductive care, I'd be able to buy all of my textbooks for the next four years of college and still have money left over for unlimited Starbucks during finals.
Most women say that their period is Hell and they're valid in that belief because suffering is subjective. Let me tell you about my period though, my body is an oxymoron (emphasis on the moron) and I have to be on blood thinners because of clotting while having a platelet disorder that should make me unable to clot - see the problem? My period lands me in the hospital needing blood transfusions because of the sheer amount of blood loss, I get severe anxiety every month because I'm scared for my life, and I am completely non-functional for a week to two weeks.
I can't take any kind of hormonal birth control because that puts me at an increased risk for clotting and my body is so stubborn it manages to create clots even while on blood thinners. When I tried a medication that helps control bleeding for my period recently I ended up having my first transient ischemic attack (TIA) in over a year. The options left to control my period are permanent - a hysterectomy or an ablation. But because I am a young woman, the medical system places a higher value on the lives of my hypothetical unborn children than my own.
It's not that I don't want kids, but since I became aware that my illness is genetic, the thought of having biological children kind of terrifies me. I never want to make another person go through what I've had to go through with my health. I also know that there is no chance I would survive pregnancy/labor, but because there are other ways to have children without having to go through pregnancy/labor myself this has never bothered me. (And to be honest, I've never quite seen the appeal of pregnancy anyway - I get sick most mornings as it is from medication side effects, why would I intentionally subject myself to that when there are ways around it?)
It would be one thing if my physicians were saying no to these permanent options because of the risk of surgery, but their argument is that I could one day change my mind about having children. Here's the thing though, if I were to have a hysterectomy I would only be removing my uterus meaning I would still have my ovaries and could have biological children through a surrogate if I so choose (which as I mentioned, I would need/want anyway.) Same thing goes for an ablation. So neither of these options are actually robbing me of my chance to be a mom, it just would make me have children in a more unconventional manner, but since when have I ever done anything conventionally in my life?
As much as I am ripping on the whole "you never know what could happen..." thing, medical professionals are right in theory. I don't know what could happen in ten years. They could isolate the genetic mutations that made me sick and cure them, or they could still be searching for an answer, or I could be dead - who knows? But I can't base my future on a maybe and it is unfair of my doctors to make me do so especially when the problem is impacting the present so intensly.
This issue is incredibly complex and can't be talked about in just one blog post, which is why I plan to make this a series. This post is focused on the health care side of things and I want the next one to be focused on the social implications as well as conflicting views in disability rights advocacy. (Ex. disabled people had sterilization forced upon them in history, am I being counterproductive by fighting for this for myself?)
Reproductive care is health care and we need to start accepting this as a universal truth. We need to respect women's autonomy and we need physicians to have more empathy for patients making these kinds of hard decisions.
I'm just one person with a story like this, but I know I'm not alone and if you're experiencing difficulties with reproductive care or even if you have a counter opinion to this piece Sick Chicks would love to hear from you. Head to our "Get Involved" page to learn how to submit a Spotlight post.