Updated: Mar 15, 2019
You'd think the answer was obvious, but it really isn't. If you follow me on social you might have been my post this week about how I went to have my coil removed...The response to that post has bowled me over.
Combined with the simmering rage that continues to bubble up as I recall the quarter of an hour spent in the GP's office Wednesday morning it has left me certain that this message needs to be shouted from the rooftops. It should be as simple as "Your body, your decision." But it ain't.
In case you didn't see my post on Instagram, here's what happened. I went to my GP appointment to have my coil removed. I expected this to be pretty straight-forward - just as putting it in had been. Walk in, walk out.
Instead I was treated like someone not in full possession of her marbles, interrogated about my motives, with a clear indication that I was being flippant, reckless and simply had not given men (yeah, all of them) enough consideration with this decision. These are actual sentences said to me in that moment:
you are only 39 - the coil is the best form of contraception for you, without it you WILL have another pregnancy (not only a doctor but a clairvoyant too it seems - never mind that she knows nothing about my circumstances)
we don’t have to do this today - why don’t you go and discuss this with your husband (what is it - the 50s?!)
men don’t like wearing condoms every time (umm yeah, but I LOVE having a contraceptive in me ALL THE TIME)
the coils are meant to stay in 5 years, taking it out now (3 years in)...well...the procedure will have been a failure. (for whom?!)
What if your period comes back really heavy and difficult? Your only way of regulating it will be to go on the pill or put another coil in again. (Neatly sums up everything that is wrong with how we educate girls and women about periods.)
What then followed was a Mexican stand off where I actually thought for a moment that she was not going to remove the coil for me, and The Handmaid Tale-esque thoughts started darting through my brain.
She was, in the end, good enough to respect my bodily autonomy. But I came out feeling completely winded at the realisation how deeply fucked our approach to women's wellness, wellbeing and health is. I've never felt the clutches of the patriarchy more vividly and walked out of that surgery more of a feminist that I have ever been. Not angry at men, but angry at the societal construct we live in that produces a female doctor that can talk to another woman like this, leaving her feeling so misunderstood and so unsupported.
My shocking experience with contraception is not isolated - that much was clear from the comments pouring in on Instagram. I also know - from personal experience and through my work in hypnobirthing - that women come under a huge amount of pressure in pregnancy and in birth to jump through the hoops and do as they are told, be a good girl - listening in to their bodies and their instincts is not just discouraged, it is regularly crushed.
Isn't it interesting that according to ancient wisdom, the womb is the heart of divine female power, and that we find ourselves in a society that is intent on controlling it and barring our connection to it.
My body, my decision. It IS that simple. Feminist or not, please remember this next time you walk into the doctor's office to talk about your periods, fertility or pregnancy.