The Preexisting Condition of Being Female

ask me about my uterus

“It is my sincerest hope that some of what is in this book will no longer be applicable by the time it’s in your hands” is the first sentence in Ask Me About My Uterus (pg. x1).  Abby Norman leads right into explaining how strange that sounds coming from the author of the book the reader has just opened.  Yet, it all makes sense as she leads the reader into her unnecessarily drawn-out history of navigating the health care system with an unknown diagnosis, that turns out to be endometriosis.

I am reading this book immediately after Doing Harm last week.  I ordered them both at the same time right when they were released, and, they actually came out on the same day.  Doing Harm gives a very through overview of endometriosis, but Ask Me About My Uterus dives even deeper.  I thought it made sense to read these two books back to back, but I have to admit that the timing of it has left me feeling quite depleted.

I am also finishing my capstone paper for my M.A. at this moment, which happens to be about women being denied access to appropriate treatment for, and also being denied the acknowledgement of, their pelvic pain.  Just like in Doing Harm, Ms. Norman also shines another spotlight on the overwhelming numbers of women who hit wall after wall as they navigate the health care system.

If I, or any other woman whose gynecologic cancers or pathologies had gone undiagnosed, had just been sick in some other part of the body, in some other way, would it have been any different? Or, would it not have mattered? Was the underlying preexisting condition being female? Does the congenital lack of a Y chromosome predispose a patient to worse outcomes regardless of what conditions or disease they present with? (pgs. 23-24)

I also appreciate Ms. Norman adding another voice to the “what is a normal period?” conversation.  And, I was not aware of the recent JAMA research showing that “patients have better outcomes when they’re treated by female physicians, including being less likely to die” and that “female doctors are more likely to encourage and prescribe preventative care measures and to use more patient-centered communication techniques” (pg. 141).  I learned a lot from Ask Me About My Uterus and I recommend adding it to your reading list.