Women have begun sharing harrowing stories of their experiences with the contraceptive device on social media, saying they felt under cared-for and misinformed during the insertion process.
It’s inherently clear that women find it much harder than men to have their bodies understood within the medical sphere.
Last month, responding to an article published in the Times titled ‘why we all need pain relief when having an IUD fitted,’ BBC’s Naga Muchetty shared her experience from having the contraceptive device fitted.
She described the process as ‘one of the most traumatic physical experiences’ of her life, calling for an end to female pain when fitting an IUD.
Hearing Muchetty’s cries, small business owner Lucy Cohen started a petition demanding better expectation management of what the insertion and removal of an IUD entails (currently the NHS website suggests some ‘mild discomfort’), as well as more pain relief options as standard.
So far, it’s well surpassed the initial 10,000 signature mark and has encouraged thousands of women to come forward with similarly excruciating encounters to Cohen, for whom the procedure was so painful, she ‘didn’t recognise the noises coming from [her] mouth.’
‘I had to tell them to stop because it was so bad, I felt like I was going to throw up,’ said one. ‘I fainted and loss consciousness,’ said another.
And, regarding contraception, you only had to witness the outraged reaction towards potential blood clotting from a COVID-19 vaccine to understand how often women’s reproductive health is overlooked.
While the risk posed by AstraZeneca is just 0.0004%, one in one thousand women develop a blood clot every year from taking the pill.
The fact that women must work extra hard just to prove what they already know about their own bodies – and beg for necessities in order to be physically well – is symptomatic of a wider historical issue. Men are more privileged that women within the medical community and have been for decades.
It boils down to a lack of comprehensive reserve and a pervasive shame around our bodies which must be addressed through improved education, more open conversations in medical settings, and a genuine commitment by the government to close the gender health gap.
Without seeking to shame doctors, Cohen suggests that in failing to acknowledge the severity of the pain some women are enduring, they’re essentially gaslighting their patients.