Open letter to doctors re: cervical cancer screening “invitations”

hand-writing-letterThe following letter by an anonymous author was posted on a UK Health Forum and shared on this blog by Elizabeth (Aust):

“Dear Doctors,

Thank you for your recent letter in which you informed me that I am at risk of dying from cervical cancer. I know that you are busy people and it was so thoughtful of you to take time out of your day to remind me of my own mortality. Prior to receiving your letter, I had really been too happy and carefree but this really brought me back down to earth where I belong.

Although I am a perfectly healthy young woman, I do not feel I have enough fear and anxiety in my life. Please could you also enlighten me about the following possible threats to my health? How likely am I to die of other cancers? Also, how likely is it that I will die in a car crash?

After all, my body belongs to you, dear doctors and you know what is best for me. I am sure that, whatever you decide to do, you have my every happiness in mind”

http://www.patient.co.uk/forums/discuss/dear-doctors-22711

About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
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45 Responses to Open letter to doctors re: cervical cancer screening “invitations”

  1. Heather (AU) says:

    A great post!
    Who would have had any doubts that doctors always put the patients’ wellbeing first, and the health care system is all about health and care?!

    The further from them the better! 😀

  2. Cervical cancer takes many women’s lives. They now realize that Pap tests after menopause is a good tool for diagnosis. A friend developed cervical cancer and it was not a pretty death. Hugs, barbara

    • Kate (UK) says:

      My uncle died recently from leukaemia. That wasn’t a pretty death either, but if doctors offered a test for it I would want to know, first and foremost. how accurate the test was. If it’s an inaccurate test then it’s no deal, because it’s more likely to harm me than help me. Many people in the same situation would allow their emotions to cloud their judgement and test out of fear. It’s unlikely that they would take any negative consequences of screening into account, and many people still believe, including you apparently, that screening has no downsides at all. This is simply not true.
      The pap test is simply NOT a good test for any woman at any age – it’s about as reliable as a chocolate teapot. If a woman has symptoms she needs proper evaluation, not an innacurate screening test. Using the pap whenever the patient has any ‘women’s problems’ is quite simply a bad habit that doctors refuse to give up.
      We need a test which is fit for the 21st century, not this archaic nonsense. But the medical profession make too much money out of ‘women’s health’ to let it go – allowing us to use a more accurate, and hopefully less invasive, test would cut the numbers of false positives/negatives and be far more beneficial. to the patient. Not so good for the doctors wallet though.

      • Alex says:

        You’re right about the fear thing. Works that way with business moves, too (which, of course, connects to all kinds of situation- medical, legal, military, whatever).

        Got a good laugh out that thing you said about being as reliable as a chocolate teapot. Never heard that one before.

    • Fran says:

      ”Cervical cancer takes many women’s lives.”
      Really barbara? How many? Maybe a little peek at the U.S. Center for Disease control would gain your interest. Don’t worry about the text there as the double talk abounds. The chart with NUMBERS (numbers never lie) state that screening (pap) 100,000 women only found a handful that had cervical cancer. And of those 1 died. ONE ! So you’d like to put 99,999 women through this invasive, vile examination for 1? Really?

      There’s a female Dr. in the United Kingdom (can’t recall her name) who (about 15 years ago) stated publicly that it would take screening 1,000 women yearly for 35 years to save 1 life.

      I can’t help wonder who asked you to write your little tidbit of misinformed information.
      Hugs, Fran

  3. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Barbara, almost all post-menopausal women are HPV- and cannot benefit from pap testing, but sadly, older women (like young women, under 30) produce more false positives that can lead to some ugly places, like excess biopsy.
    The speculum exam can be very painful after menopause and cause soreness and bleeding…some women can’t tolerate the exam at all. Even the position can be difficult if the woman has arthritis or back issues. Some older women take pessaries before the exam, but again, most cannot benefit, it’s discomfort/pain etc. for NO benefit.

    The fact is a woman who wants to screen for this fairly rare cancer can simply test herself for HPV using something like the Delphi Screener, if she’s HPV- and that’s about 95% of women aged 30 to 60, then she cannot benefit from pap testing and should just get on with her life. If she’s no longer sexually active or confidently monogamous, she might choose to forget all further testing…otherwise, she might want to self-test for HPV once more at age 60 or 65.
    So the evidence does not support your statements.

  4. Diane says:

    Sue, is there a way to contact you to possibly do a guest post, or give you some material to write about? I have a doozy, and I don’t want to leave it in the comments.

  5. adawells says:

    This is a very good article about citizens making informed choices about cancer screening from Australia.
    http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/105/6/380.full?keytype=ref&ijkey=JAzZBzArdXMoaoN.

  6. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    I’m often reminded of the power of these “invitations” and the propaganda used by these programs. A women, not yet sexually active, posted on a UK health forum that she wasn’t sure about the need for the test, she’d been “invited” and had also, received reminders.
    A couple of us posted real information, but she went ahead and had the pap test anyway, why?
    I think she always intended to, she was clearly worried by the correspondence and just wanted to “get it over with”…after the uncomfortable event, “at least I know what’s involved now, in case I have another test in the future”.
    So here is a woman who has an unnecessary test and thinks that’s the best solution…but no test is ever simple, especially this one and at 25 years old, what does she do if the test comes back “abnormal” as so many of them do, especially in women under 30? Does she have a colposcopy and biopsy to get them off her back, so she knows what it’s all about in the future etc.?

    It’s frustrating, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The nurse said given she’d never been sexually active, it was up to her whether she wanted the test. (surely that’s the case with ALL women)
    The target is more important though, risking her health is of no importance, it should have been pointed out that she was most unlikely to benefit and was exposing herself to fairly high risk, but no….I’m dreaming now…THAT would never happen, they’ll take any cervix they can get…too bad if she faces the worry of a false positive, and possibly, more, a biopsy or treatment.

    • adawells says:

      It was a shame this lady gave into the nagging and had the smear test. I do think that when young women get to 25 in the UK, they have a big curiosity about the test, after having read so many online posts about it from Americans, who will have had a few by that age. I think many go out of curiosity about what it will be like, and to actually feel like one of the crowd. It is completely wrong that there is such pressure and publicity about this test in a woman’s life.
      On another note, I’ve been making enquiries about when the UK is going to offer HPV self test kits, and have received a reply (reliable) that it may be in 2-3 years. I then asked why Dutch women will be offered them next year, and UK women not, but, of course, I’m still waiting on that reply… I was told that the HPV self test kits would never be available on demand through the NHS, only as part of an organised screening programme. They can’t let go of women’s bodies can they? However, it may help our lady, who had the pap test, next time around, and other young UK women who have a few years til the next one.
      By the way, I posted the latest Dutch cervical screening leaflet on References and Education recently. I like the way they provide a contact address for questions/ complaints etc. This is totally missing from the British leaflet, which deceives women into thinking it has come from her GP, and offers no contact to object/complain, (except to go to her GP and get talked into testing). What do you think of it?

      • Kate (UK) says:

        I’m not impressed by that leaflet, I’m afraid. In some ways it’s a little better than the UK one, but in many ways it’s just as bad or even worse that ours. Constantly using that nonsense term, ‘pre-cancer’, playing down the unpleasantness of the test by saying it’s ‘usually painless’ etc…. they don’t even mention that the speculum is opened up inside you. Same old spin really.
        I recall reading somewhere (now where was it again?) that the cervical screening leaflet is designed for women with a reading and comprehension level of an 11-year-old. Sounds about right to me.

      • adawells says:

        Kate, you are right. I have also read somewhere that the reading age of the information leaflets for women is at age 11. If you can read the leaflet it’s what they call being “informed”.

      • Kleigh says:

        If meadical people have to hide the truth about pap smears and how invasive they are, there must be somthing fishy. it seems only doctors benefit from paps. i dont know a single woman who has been saved only alot how felt violated. these pple act like woman cant live with out paps how did woman servive for years befor paps. its brainwashing .

  7. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Hi Ada
    It’s a lot better than the Australian brochures.
    This one was given to a colleague, it assumes the reader is about 5.
    http://www.papscreen.org.au/downloads/resources/brochures/Pap_tests_the_plain_facts.pdf

    We had a good laugh, (it’s that or screaming) she has a Masters Degree in Law and she’s not 5.
    So an email has been sent off asking lots of question, “raised by your informative and helpful brochure”. Her email will definitely go into the too hard basket.

    • adawells says:

      I’d say that is very insulting to every woman in Australia. I’d be furious if I got that. I’m just researching these brochures at the moment. I recently read in a UK NHS document that nationally in the UK, the reading age is just 9! Whilst this is an appallingly low figure, many people may be dyslexic, but highly intelligent. There is a difference between literature for children and adults even if both have the same reading age. Something they don’t seem to realise in writing medical brochures for the public.
      Only the Dutch leaflet offers a contact with the organisation running the programme. In the others there is no information about opting out or stopping the correspondence. In the UK, our laws (for what they are worth), say that a means for women to opt out must be available. I want to try and get this means made clear on future leaflets. It says in one document I have:
      “…information would need to make very clear the right and methods to opt out of processing and dissent would need to be respected”.

  8. Kate (UK) says:

    That is just unbelievable! I’m surprised they haven’t made it into a pop-up book.

  9. Si says:

    It’s creepy!

  10. ChasUK says:

    http://www.informedchoiceaboutcancerscreening.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Report-of-consultation-on-information-about-cancer-screening-programmes-13th-December-2012_ls.pdf
    From this 70 page PDF link above “Informed choice about cancer screening”, most of what should be printed in the NHS Facts leaflets are not there: Copied below what stood out to me:
    “However, screening can also have harms, including: Identifying cancers that would not have done any harm (overdiagnosis) resulting in unnecessary treatment (overtreatment).” NOT IN THE CC FACTS LEAFLET
    “Most people invited for cancer screening would not have developed the relevant cancer anyway.
    Therefore, the main benefit of screening– preventing premature death– will affect only a very small
    proportion of those screened.” NOT IN THE CC FACTS LEAFLET
    “The tests themselves can be painful or unpleasant, or in rare circumstances cause physical harm
    anxiety and other mental health problems.” NOT IN THE CC FACTS LEAFLET
    “Screening can also lead to further, more invasive tests and treatments which may in themselves be painful or cause harm.” NOT IN THE CC FACTS LEAFLET
    “2.6 Most people invited for cancer screening would not have developed the relevant cancer anyway. Therefore, the main benefit of screening– preventing premature death– will affect only a very small proportion of those screened.” NOT IN THE CC FACTS LEAFLET
    CANCER RESEARCH BELOW: NONE OF WHICH IS IN THE CC LEAFLET
    “Support for the approach and specifically the approach based on ‘consider an offer’ (NOTE)
    All organisations gave broad support fort he proposed approach (e.g. stating that it was ‘robust and
    evidence-based’) and several said that they thought that the approach based on ‘consider an offer’
    represented a move towards providing informed choice about cancer screening.
    While charities mainly supported the idea of promoting high screening uptake, on the grounds of
    population benefit, they recognised difficulties and tensions of providing informed choice about
    cancer screening in this context. It was noted that the invitation to come for screening in itself could be seen as an implicit recommendation to be screened, and that presenting information on harms could threaten uptake (NOTE) They saw that the approach based on ‘consider an offer’ could represent a solution to this. Cancer Research UK said that it ‘would not be comfortable with the inclusion of individual recommendations to attend screening–whether strong or otherwise– in the leaflet, booklet, health professional factsheet or evidence resource’, stating its view that ‘these resources should provide truly balanced, even-handed information about screening to enable people to make an informed choice about whether or not to take up the offer of screening.’
    Cancer Research UK also: felt that the invitation letter could offer at least an implicit recommendation from the NHS by stating that the person was being invited ‘because screening is known to confer health benefits at a population level’ endorsed the view that the letter should acknowledge that not taking up screening was a reasonable choice(NOTE) warned against any manipulation of the description of the data in the leaflet to encourage one or other choice.”

    The CC leaflets still push you to screen and do not allow you to make a properly informed decision. What I read in the link above does not come across at all in the original facts leaflet, and still they worry about the threat to uptake! The PDF is 70 pages long but a good read.

    • adawells says:

      Thanks for your terrific post, Chas.
      I also found this document
      http://www.hra.nhs.uk/documents/2013/09/managing-non-response-guidance-v1-2.pdf
      about section 251, which means the British government can by-pass national laws, and stick all women onto a call and recall system for screening, since it would not be “practicable” to ask all in turn, and there would be a high “no-response” rate.
      It says on page 3,
      “1.Fair processing information [ie the information provided to women about screening], would need to make very clear the right and methods to opt out of processing and dissent would need to be respected.”

      From this I understand it to mean that the leaflets must include information, not just that women have a choice, but also how they can go about making that choice and opting out of the programme, and their dissent must be respected.

      • ChasUK says:

        adawells – wow thank you for that link – interesting. Surprise…….opting out is not even mentioned in the facts leaflets. With every invitation (wanted or unwanted as we didn’t sign up to it) there should be a standard pre-printed letter offering us that right to choice, a dissent letter would be fair.
        Thanks again

    • adawells says:

      I’ve just read the 70 page document, and it certainly is a step in the right direction, but as Chris Hiley says in the document, it is shocking that it has taken them until 2012 to set about giving women informed choice in screening.

      If you only have time to read one page, it must be page 56 which is pure gold!

      The doctors are quite right to say that the public is unable to make a choice since they have been brainwashed for so long. Good to see they were sceptical about the charities, but the patient groups were still very believing on the charities to give them fair advice on whether or not to attend screening. Can anyone imagine Jo’s Trust telling someone not to go for a smear test? I noted that the workshops with patients and charities took place at London Zoo. Probably wanted the sheep to feel at home.

      • kat rehman says:

        I’m in the UK and the one thing that bugs me about the pogrom, apart from the obvious, is these invitations. As we all know they are anything but. Even women I know who do screen get irritated by it. Surely it would be possible to change wording to summat like.. It’s been 5 years since you last screened ir you would like to do so again please make an appointment!!

  11. ChasUK says:

    Welcome to this fabulous site Kat. I am in the UK too. It would seem that I have successfully opted out of the cervical screening programme, for the time being anyway. I wrote to our screening office by email regarding opting out and I was emailed back, given the local address by providing my postcode, however they suggested that I discuss opting out with my GP and that he can arrange this for me. I did this very firmly and was again met with some resistance albeit polite, “I don’t think I can do that” is what he said. Obviously I followed through with what the reply email had suggested and again firmly explained that “yes you can and this is my choice and decision”, I did not sign any declaration but did send him a letter thereafter to ensure that my request had been dealt with, no return reply received, but so far I have not had anymore letters, which I was getting every 3-4 months, it has now been 6 months. My GP did ask to see some of the material I was reading, which I have not supplied to him because I shouldn’t have to. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, around 4 years of letters chasing me, and although they are just letters I was surprised at how they made me feel emotionally. I am 46 and guess will have the same resistance with mammograms in the future, but because of this site and all the fabulous people who have provided their personal stories, advice and all the educational links…………..I feel free, it sounds daft but I do feel so much stronger about cancer screening and my decision to refuse all of them. There are many links on this site which will help you understand the risks and limitations of screening, I hope you get the time to read them all. I did find it useful searching on Google “decision aids for cancer screening”, worth a search if you have the time. We are very glad you made it here, that’s one more on the informed list.

    • kat rehman says:

      Hi chas UK, thanks for the welcome!! I didn’t have to see my GP but I have a medication review coming up and smear might be raised there!! I’m 51. And haven’t been “invited ” to mammogram. Yet but I won’t be going… I’m just glad I’m not alone in how I feel but it’s awful what these programmes are doing to women x

    • adawells says:

      Hi Chas, it is terrible that your GP has been so difficult about this. You might remind him that under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, once you have specified in writing that you no longer wish to be on the programme, it is the law that they must remove you and STOP the letters from coming. Remind him that he is breaking the law if he is not going to do this and tell him that it is a requirement of the DPA 1998 that you are not to be contacted. I attach the regulations for cervical screening for Croydon below. Insist on asking to opt out permanently. Many GP’s are letting women opt out, but only putting them down to opt out of the current round. They will be recalled in 3 years time and the business starts all over again. Make it clear your request is for permanent opt out, and this includes not having this issue raised again at any subsequent appointments. Another thing they have brought in recently is a “reminder of your opt out status” every 5 years. GPs retain the right to send you one of these, as it is not called a recall or invitation letter, it’s gets them around the Data Protection Act laws about not bothering you again. I opted out in 2003, after avoiding my GP surgery and the letters for 2 rounds (6 years). If you fail to respond for 2 rounds they will contact you, because the GP loses target money if you are a non-responder. If you are a fully opted out woman, it doesn’t affect their target payments, so when they know you are adamant it’s in their interests to let you opt out.
      https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=21&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCAQFjAAOBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.croydonccg.nhs.uk%2Fabout-us%2FGoverning%2520body%2FGoverning%2520Boday%2520Papers%2F27-11-12%2FAttach%2520E3%2520-%2520Croydon%2520Cervical%2520Screening%2520Operational%2520Policy%2520CCG%2520GB%2520App%25201.pdf&ei=c5NtVZjwNIOjygOC4YGYDA&usg=AFQjCNH6HAYAy_ua_XxZ9qHjaet7br1lUg&sig2=7UGc6kvxDmkF0ebZqw3vKQ

      With the breast screening programme it is different because an appointment is made for you, and it doesn’t take place at the GP surgery, so no on-the-spot pressure to get it done.
      Because an appointment is made for you, they have to include a non-acceptance slip for you to turn down your appointment. If you fail to reply, they will no doubt pester you to re-arrange another. I was first invited at 51, and returned the “not required” slip, and have not been bothered by them since, although I’m expecting another one anytime this year or next. Your GP will be notified that you have turned down your offer of a mammogram, and will raise the matter next time you are there so be prepared. I gave my GP a very firm NO! and the matter was instantly dropped. Believe me, the pressure to get a mammogram is nothing like as bad as the smear test pressure, because they don’t do them at the surgery, so there is nothing they can do to make you have them, or withhold treatment for whatever else you have come for, if you refuse to “hop up on the couch”. I had thought of preparing for a big fight to opt out of breast screening too, but because they are much more relaxed about it, I haven’t so far felt the pressure there is with cervical screening.

      • kat rehman says:

        Hi chas UK, thanks for the welcome!! I didn’t have to see my GP but I have a medication review coming up and smear might be raised there!! I’m 51. And haven’t been “invited ” to mammogram. Yet but I won’t be going… I’m just glad I’m not alone in how I feel but it’s awful what these programmes are doing to women x

      • kat rehman says:

        Thanks adawells, I’m sure at 51 I’ll soon be “invited” for a mammogram and wondered what would happen, you’ve answered a few questions. Needless to say I won’t be accepting that “invitation “” either. And yes it’s shocking how chas doctor spoke to her. Seems women’s experience of opting out are all different. So far mines not been too bad but as I said I’ve got a medication review coming up so…
        I’ve already decided if the smear word comes up I’ll just say I opted out, informed decision, I’m not here about my cervix but….
        I feel so much better, having taken action to stop the “invitations “.people on this site are amazing!!

      • Kate (UK) says:

        I suspect that if there were targets and tasty incentive payments for GP’s to ‘encourage’ women to have mammograms – like the ones that exist for cervical screening – there would be a hell of a lot more pressure coming from GP’s (and their dimwit nurses) in regards to breast screening, no?

      • adawells says:

        Kate, I think there are incentives to offer a breast exam to anyone who has declined mammography so my GP gave herself a tick for more money there. I think it is one of their QOF targets to mention it to women who have turned the test down (like you don’t know your own mind or can’t read). However, from my experience, the pressure just isn’t there like it is with cervical screening. For one thing I honestly think that doctors are in serious doubt themselves about mammography. The (male) gyn oncologist I had for my hysterectomy told me I was “wise to leave them alone”, which speaks volumes doesn’t it? There is also nothing a GP can do to get you to have one, since they don’t take place at the surgery. It’s not like paps where you can’t even get a toenail looked at without being told you need a smear first. The pressure just isn’t there for breast screening in the way it is with paps. Another reason, maybe that they are dealing with older women, who they know they can no longer convince?

    • Victoria says:

      adawells – it’s an old comment from 2014, but I found this on the Mumsnet thread: “I have 3 friends who had the worst level of pre cancerous changes picked up by a smear. It’s clear what the outcome would have been otherwise.” ::sigh:: No, it is very unclear. All we know is that they probably wouldn’t have ever developed cancer even if they had CIN 3. Are any of you able to reply to correct the information, even though the poster themselves probably won’t see it? The misinformation that abnormal cells = certain cancer in future (or are cancer themselves) is what seems to keep the screening campaign going here in the UK. People convinced it has saved lives and that these people would certainly have got cancer without it. It goes to show that patients are either being lied to to make sure they have “treatment” (scandalous and illegal) or they are being told the truth but not very clearly. Doctors also have to understand that patients are extremely worried (because of all this misinformation) at the point they hear “we’ve found some…” and aren’t going to be in the right frame of mind to absorb factual information and be logical. This causes them to hear only the worst case scenario and the misinformation perpetuates.

  12. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    This comment was made by a male ob-gyn on the Patient UK site:

    “As a male doctor wishing to specialise in OBGYN, I find this response quite off putting. For starters, it demeans the commitment of many men like myself who are genuinely committed to women’s health issues. From Pap smears to HPV immunisation, were all invented by men. Almost all of our understanding of female reproductive physiology came from the works of great men. Unless Eliz knows better, I am guessing that the drive of many such men was a genuine interest in women’s health issues. Bear in mind that the training pathway for OBGYN in Australia and similar countries is about 8-10 years post medical school. You don’t go down this path to perv on women. In my case, the draw of obstetrics and gynaecology stems from my genuine fascination with the field is because it combines lots of general medicine and surgery. I also really enjoy my work in the area of obstetrics. It is very renewing. The gynaecological aspects of this field is extremely important from the point of screening, prevention and treatment. I think a small inconvenience in terms of colposcopy even if conducted by a male doctor is a small price to pay relative to warding off cervical cancer. There are also guidelines in Australia for colposcopic referral. Generally, a GP only refers a patient to colposcopy clinic if two pap smears turn out positive. There are also other reasons for referral such as bleeds etc which can get assessed during your consult.
    I reiterate the fact that the male doctors you see are professionals and their sole concern is your health”

    Interesting so many just don’t get it, it’s not about them, it’s how we feel that matters.
    I couldn’t care less how much training they have, if a woman prefers a female doctor, end of story.

    For a long time women had no choice and we could hardly say that women were treated well during those years…then when female doctors started appearing, many women were scoffed at and belittled if they requested a female doctor. “you don’t have anything he hasn’t seen 5000 times before” etc.
    Now more women are confident enough to stand firm and some don’t like it…I have a choice when it comes to my doctor, (or should have) whether some male doctors like it or not.
    http://patient.info/forums/discuss/summoned-for-a-colposcopy-360850?page=0#1432489

    He clearly hasn’t been following the news either, how many male doctors have been caught doing the wrong thing, just over the last 2 years? Using cameras to take photos during pelvic exams etc. Also, I don’t think he can speak for all male doctors. Yes, some men DO study medicine for many years and end up taking advantage of women. I think a male doctor who thinks this topic is about him, is one to be avoided. For many women though, they simply feel more comfortable, find the exam less embarrassing with a female doctor, what’s so hard to understand?

    • Victoria says:

      He thinks a colposcopy is a “small inconvenience”. Huge warning sign right there that he has no understanding of the physical and mental concerns of women undergoing any type of intimate exam. He may not be a pervert (which he seems to think never exist just because he isn’t one – worrying lack of logic from a doctor), but he isn’t a compassionate doctor either.

    • Shocked says:

      The statements about the significance of men in the medical field like this obgyn used just make me angry. “Blah-blah everything was invented by men”. It was invented by men because for ages women were not welcome in the universities and in many professions.

      Then, all male obgyn doctors keep on blabbing about thier fascination with the obgyn field because it combines general medicine with a lot of surgery. That’s why there is a lot of surgery — they butcher women whenever an opportunity arises. First they go out of their way to invent a problem, and then it inevitably requires a surgery to save the poor woman’s life.

      And yes, I don’t care a flying fig how many years of training he had if it still left him without the ability to think for himself rather than repeating the old BS, and and to respect the woman’s choice.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        As an Australian doctor he should know that our excessive program has resulted in enormous numbers of unnecessary colposcopies, biopsies and over-treatment. This was mostly avoidable, if they actually cared about women. He dismisses the procedure as merely inconvenient, I don’t know any women who feel the same way, does he care?
        He is talking about the issue from HIS point of view, when a good doctor, a compassionate doctor, sees things from his patient’s point of view. He can extend an olive branch, I’m a great doctor etc. but ultimately the decision rests with the woman. (or should) End of story.
        We now have a choice…too bad some struggle with that concept.

        The fact is doctors, gyns etc. have made a fortune from our program and the carnage it causes, heads should roll, and that’s why this abuse has continued, while they could capture sufficient numbers of women. Now the tide has turned, there are more informed women appearing every day, and that’s IMO the main reason our program is changing. They may be in for an even bigger shock, I suspect more women will refuse to take part in the program or they’ll use HPV self-testing. I think fewer women accept, “doctor knows best” these days, more women question/decline routine breast exams, understand they can decline pap testing, (and still get a script for the Pill) know they can get the Pill online….that’s not going to stop.

        As for the great achievements by men FOR women, they’re also, responsible for most of the abuse. I don’t think women are better off for population pap testing or breast screening, (the way it’s been carried out by these programs) for locking the Pill behind a script, for the lack of consent and informed consent, for medical birth. (look at the birth trauma site) I could go on and on, but you all know what I’m talking about..

        It’s clear that some female doctors have also, taken on the unhealthy and disrespectful attitudes within the profession, I imagine it starts in medical school…that’s why I say change starts with one woman, then 2, then 2000 etc. You can easily silence and isolate 1 woman, but it’s a LOT harder with thousands, tens of thousands etc.

    • Alice (Australia) says:

      “A small inconvenience of colposcopy…” This is one of the main problems with male obgyn doctors: they have no idea how those medieval tortures are felt by women, yet they keep in inventing, recommending, supporting and defending them. In each coutry, the whole medical system is founded and run by men. These procedures and screening programmes won’t hurt a man, so why bother listening to women’s complaints, improving the situation, or charging anything?

  13. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Sorry he’s not an ob-gyn yet, he’s hoping to become an ob-gyn.

  14. linda says:

    Yes eliz i totally agree, the treatment of women has been despicable down the centuries. Removing of clits for hysteria, hystercto’s for headaches. Does he not know this? I’m afraid a lot of men have harmed women even with good intentions. I feel much safer with my own kind. I would be happy if he never got any patients ever. It would serve him right. I would only want to go to a woman from now on if i get something. Its just a personal thing. I don’t hate men far from it but i would just prefer a women for gyno things. I feel such a conection to other women.

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Linda, me too, it comes down to comfort. I’ve never needed to see a gyn and hope to keep it that way, but if I need one, it’ll be a woman. I have private health insurance, I wouldn’t be without it, mainly because I want to choose my own doctor. In the public hospital system, you can ask, but might not get one. Anything that makes an unpleasant experience a little easier…and if that’s a preference for a female doctor, so be it.
      If he goes into the specialty, he’ll just have to accept the fact some women won’t use him/accept his professional services. Some male doctors don’t care, I heard a male obgyn say on OBGYN.net that he’d just work in areas where women have no choice of doctor, the military, emergency dept, L&D…that says a lot about the man and it’s certainly not complimentary!

  15. Chrissy (UK) says:

    A colposcopy is just a “small inconvenience”. Wow, what an unsympathetic and patronising comment by someone who has zero chance of ever experiencing it. AND by a doctor who aims to become an OBGYN.
    I can imagine the scenario for his future patients who find it somewhat more than a “small inconvenience” Pressure to screen, pressure to undergo colposcopy for ‘abnormal’ results and then “I don’t want to hear it if you find any of it traumatic in anyway. Damn it woman, you should be grateful to all the great men in the past who have mapped women’s dodgy biology” ( I hope he doesn’t include J Marion Sims in his list of ‘great men’).
    He doesn’t seem to understand that all the good that some men have achieved over the years is mitigated by the damage they have often wreaked on women with their male take on women’s reproductive physiology. Also, had women actually been allowed to enter into the medical profession in the 18th and 19th centuries, it would not be so highly biased towards men’s ‘discoveries’.
    I am sick to my back teeth with attitudes like this and wild horses would not induce me to see a male doctor for gyn problems. Any male medical graduate or doctor who wants to become an OBGYN should understand that if it perplexes or annoys them that some women will refuse to see them, then they should not enter this profession, as it is abundantly clear that this will happen sometime in their career. Women do not have to ‘get over it’ or be OK as ‘he has seen thousands’ or ‘he does this everyday’. Some of us are extremely uncomfortable with a male doctor for intimate exams, so what is so hard to understand?
    We will decide who sees and touches our body, not them.

    • Alex says:

      Have any of you ever noticed that if a woman picks a female personal trainer to work out with, no one gives her an argument?

      If a guy picks a guy, no one busts his chops about it either.

      I figure that there’s a tendancy to describe these things a certain way (that they are not an issue, not painful, a small inconvenience, etc…) & then to hold these things in that esteem despite it being different than the actual situation.

      They dictate, not observe. This is a precipitating factor for problems.

      On a realted note: Imagine if a cab driver decided to ignore whether they were going where the fare decided on or if there were people in the road ahead? If someone so much as gets someone’s coffee order wrong at Starbucks, it’s not seen as applaudable- even if the barista things that adding soy milk is better for the person drinking it than regular milk. The first one can very well be kidnapping & vehicular homicide, whether or not they are the same gender as the people involved or if they are doing these actions in the course of their occupation. That depends on their actions. Yet, there are people that pretend this is not true for medical personnel. It’s as if they believe that because their occupation involves the human body, that person is their occupational property. An accountant’s profession involves money, but it certainly wouldn’t be declared an innocent act of personal autonomy & freedom if they were to steal from someone’s funds.

      • Alex says:

        Forgot to add: All these medical maneuverings are things that people get charged for. There’s the definite possiblity of iatrogenic debt being an obstacle to future opportunities. Then again, so can injuries.

        Also, meant to type “thinks” instead of “things.”

    • Patti Cee says:

      A colposcopy? It might be an inconvenience w/o all the scare talk and equivalent HPV screening and routine mutilation for men over the sexually transmitted HPV virus.

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