This Woman's Story About Being Shamed by Her Gynecologist Is Going Viral
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Even though it's 2016, women are still routinely humiliated and treated dismissively by health care providers, from doctors to pharmacists. On Thursday, a 19-year-old student who goes by momdadimrae on Reddit went to the gynecologist, where she was subjected to a slew of snide remarks after she told him she struggled with depression.
"I went to the gynecologist for the first time for an IUD consultation. In the span of 20 minutes, he belittled me for being on antidepressants since 14, told me that depression doesn't exist and I should stop whining, and yelled a nurse out of the room," momdadimrae wrote on Reddit. "He kept berating me, asking me if it was school or home that made me sad and seek attention."
Her horror story about this sexist doctor quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of comments. Outraged users encouraged momdadimrae to report the doctor for misconduct, to which she enthusiastically replied "I am definitely going to."
Unfortunately, momdadimrae is not alone. Reddit is full of women sharing horror stories about their shoddy treatment at the hands of medical professionals.
Although she asked to remain anonymous, momdadimrae said this was not her first experience being shamed by a doctor.
"I started taking oral contraceptives when I was 16, and I had to see 3 different doctors before one would give me a prescription," she said in an email interview, "because the general attitude amongst the doctors I had seen was, 'You are too immature to handle birth control.' ... Their reasoning was that I was only 16 so I shouldn't be worrying about sex and things like that."
It wasn't until she saw a female doctor that momdadimrae finally got a prescription. (It's worth noting that in Canada, there is no minimum age for prescribing birth control; the decision is largely left up to the physicians themselves.)
Another user, mintcakefrog, replied to momdadimrae's story with her own humiliating experience getting an IUD. After she told the gynecologist she had stayed in a mental hospital, the doctor reportedly called in mintcakefrog's partner and "proceeded to talk to him and asked if I was able to consent and explained the procedure to me like I was 5 years old."
Unfortunately, it's not just female patients with a history of mental health issues who are shamed by physicians. Other female patients have reported being slut-shamed by their gynecologists, including 21-year-old Reddit user ssaen, whose story went viral last year.
"[My OB-GYN] starts by telling me that healthy sex is between two virgins in the 'lifetime-commitment of marriage.' Obviously, she knows that I am not a virgin, and tells me that I can still make the decision to abstain from sex until I am married," ssaen wrote. Hundreds of women replied to this post with their own horror stories. "I specifically asked for annual pelvics when he didn't bring it up ... He then insisted I wouldn't need them, since I wasn't married," commenter AptCasaNova described her experience with a male doctor.
If nothing else, the response to momdadirae's story taught her that "there definitely needs to be a change in how women are treated by health care professionals," she said in the email interview. "I have had many doctors tell me that I should steer clear of an IUD because I might want a baby in a few months. I'm 19 years old! I have the right to make informed decisions about my body and my reproductive organs."
But as the experiences of women on Reddit make clear, it's not momdadimrae's age that makes doctors feel they have the right to question her reproductive health choices. It's also her gender.
"When a woman says a man has done something unacceptable to her, the first question needs to be, 'How can I help you deal with this?', rather than 'Are you sure that's really what happened?'" she said. "Women need to be taken seriously."