There were, and still are, many reasons I’m glad I became an OB-Gyn doctor. I love serving women in some of the most personal and significant moments of their lives. Being the first human being to hold a newborn baby and introduce him or her to the wide-eyed parents is an honor indeed.
But not all of my doctoring is joy-filled. What I hate about being a doctor is all the unnecessary suffering I keep seeing. Oh, there’s plenty of “necessary” suffering I deal with in caring for women. Pregnancy is difficult, and sometimes life-threatening. Labor is terribly painful. Fibroids and endometriosis and menopause can involve heavy suffering for the women so affected. And I’m privileged to be able to relieve much of that suffering. That’s a joy.
But there’s a lot more suffering women experience that’s not necessary. And I see it almost every day. It’s the unnecessary aspect of that suffering that pains me most, knowing that it didn’t need to happen. I still do what I can to relieve that suffering, but it shouldn’t have happened.
How needless, how preventable, is the suffering of:
- The baby born to a mom who was using cocaine or methamphetamines during pregnancy
- The ten-year-old boy watching his mother die of cervical cancer
- The mother delivering her baby without a father there to celebrate
- The anxious college student worrying about whether she has an STD after discovering her boyfriend was sleeping with other women
- The middle-aged wife spending thousands of dollars on infertility treatment caused by an STD she had years ago
- The young woman pregnant for the fifth time carrying heavy shame for her previous four abortions
- The wife afraid to have sex for fear of passing her herpes on to her husband who doesn’t have it
- The Christian wife traveling thirty miles out of town to pick up a prescription for an STD she got prior to marriage so that no one she knows will see her
- The forty-year-old woman living with daily pelvic pain from chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
- The pregnant mom in the hospital for two months trying to save her baby from being born too early as a result of the previous treatment she needed for an abnormal PAP
Each and every one of these people I have dealt with personally. I know their names. I’ve looked them in the eye, laid my hands on their most private parts, written them prescriptions, had to give them bad news, and sometimes shed tears with them.
And every one of them is suffering needlessly.
The suffering of each one of these women never needed to happen. Each one is suffering today as a direct result of sex outside of a mutually monogamous marriage.
But nobody talks about that. Nobody talks about the fear, pain, shame, anxiety, loneliness, and needless suffering of sex outside of marriage. Gardasil and birth control pills may decrease a woman’s risk somewhat, but they don’t make for safe sex. Nobody talks about the physical pain of PID, or the wasting away of cervical cancer – almost exclusively caused by HPV (human papilloma virus, an STD). Nobody talks about the struggle a child will have being raised in a home without a committed mother and father. Nobody talks about the permanent soul wounds after an abortion, the daily anxiety in marriage while living with herpes, or the potentially expensive and life-altering after-effects of HPV.
No, instead we view sex as an acceptable way to sell cars, food, medication, movies, and just about anything else. We accept the exploitation of the female human body for financial gain and titillating entertainment. We pump our middle-school-aged girls full of vaccinations and tell them, “Use a condom.”
Gardasil, birth control pills, antibiotics, sex education, and condoms can be wonderful things. But when are we going to tell our young women the truth about how they can prevent needless suffering?
I don’t blame most of these women individually for their suffering. Many of them didn’t know any better, or lived in circumstances that made early, unsafe, or unwise sex almost inevitable.
But I want that to change. Where are the godly parents, church youth leaders, teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, nurses, doctors, and friends that will start telling young women the truth? Where are the media producers, musicians, sports personalities, and advertisers who will step up and refuse to use sex as a sales magnet, and instead help women know that it’s OK to say NO? Where are the older men and women who will talk openly with both young men and young women about how to manage their sex drive and preserve themselves for marriage?
Sure, there have always been unintended pregnancies, STDs, rape, domestic violence, single mothers, and the pain, shame, and guilt that too often goes along with them. And there always will be. By no means is all that suffering preventable. But can’t we do a better job of helping young women prevent the unnecessary suffering? There’s so much of it that doesn’t need to happen.
I’ve been guilty of being too politically correct. As an OB-Gyn doctor I’ve too often gone along with the party line and provided another ambulance down at the bottom, without helping to build a fence at the top of the cliff. I’ve soft-coated the truth too much, and left too many women to suffer again needlessly. I’ve neglected to let them know, “You don’t have to live like this! You don’t have to experience unnecessary suffering!”
I’m not going to do that any longer. I’ve seen too much suffering that doesn’t need to happen. And I’m going to speak up. Even as I continue to help relieve suffering both necessary and unnecessary, I’m going to get the message out, “Save yourself for marriage. You’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary suffering!”
How about you?
P.S. If you’re a woman who has experienced unnecessary suffering, I’d love to hear your story. My heart goes out to you with love and prayer. Click here to send me a confidential message.
Your Turn: Do you believe some of women’s suffering is unnecessary? What do you believe would change some of that suffering? Leave a comment.
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