Your Doctor May Be Wrong – Comprehensive Health Information & Examples

18 Mar

trust me I'm a doctorYour doctor is a medical professional that you are supposed to trust, right? After all, they are someone with years of training, countless patient hours, and sleepless nights through medical school just to make the grade (one hopes). They have dedicated their life to finding a cure, bandaging bruises, mending broken bones, and ensuring that our reproductive health is top-notch.

Hundreds of commercials each week urge people to “talk to your doctor about [insert product here]”. The general public takes this medical advice, these medications, and hopes that the medical professionals know best.  

But, is it safe to assume that a doctor’s advice is infallible?

Doctors breathe air, require food, water, and shelter the same way that you do. Not only can your doctor make mistakes, they can be wrong – they are human. After all, to err is human. That said, one common human mistake is a medical professional’s own personal beliefs. These can influence the medical advice given to patients, which may hinder your access to the valuable resources required in order for you to continue on a successful path toward wellness (i.e. reproductive health, access to contraception, weight loss, disease prevention, etc.)

Example A:**

A young woman recounted a story regarding her OB/GYN. The young woman knew that birth control pills were no longer a reliable resource, as she was experiencing major side effects. In speaking with her family doctor, she received information regarding an IntraUterine Device (IUD). She took this information to her OB/GYN and inquired about IUD placement. Her doctors response: “the placement of an IntraUterine Device (IUD) is morally wrong. You are under 30, you should have children.” Empowerment through access to contraception of the young woman’s choice had come to a grinding halt. Contraception choices were at the fate of her doctor (this is especially true if someone has not received comprehensive education regarding their reproductive options). Removing that sense of empowerment, and the freedom of choice, is dehumanizing, limiting, and it is wrong. In the end, she had done her research and pushed through the doctor’s moral barrier to request proper testing and placement of an IUD. It seemed most suitable for her lifestyle, her reproductive choices, and her overall wellness.

The doctor’s own personal beliefs influenced the advice given to the patient and offered limited access to reproductive health / offered limited access to contraception. From the above listed opinion of the doctor, their own moral obligations lie in the forefront of any legal or professional obligations that they must adhere to. Doctors are both legally and under the standards of their profession obligated to provide options. Their moral beliefs have nothing to do with you, your body, or your choices.

A second common mistake is a medical professional’s acceptance of “medical grade” lubrication. What interacts well with a penis may interact poorly in/around the vaginal canal. Your doctor may be using the lubrication that the office has provided. And why wouldn’t they, it is industry standard. This does not mean that you need to use the lubrication provided by the office. Read below to find out why.  

Example B:**

You, a person born with a vagina (cisgendered female or FtM) should receive regular pap smears and check ups, whether you are sexually active or not. A pap smear requires a doctor’s consultation, physical examination, and possibly further testing. The physical examination requires use of a speculum (the little contraption that is made of plastic/metal, that is usually cold, and is often referred to as “Duck Lips”) to be inserted into the vaginal canal, thus the cervix is visible and accessible to the doctor. The cells of the vaginal canal or cervix are then sampled and sent for test results, such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), certain cancers, and other diseases.

The speculum itself should be lubricated. Lubrication prevents microtearing of the vaginal walls and maintains cellular integrity. It also helps the speculum ease into/out of the vaginal canal. The problem lies in the fact that your OB/GYN may be using lubrication that contains questionable ingredients. These ingredients can expose you to some potentially unpleasant side effects and health concerns, such as rashes, myalgia, candidia (yeast), and inflammation. Questionable ingredients range from parabens, petrochemicals, to methyl & ethyl salicylates. Parabens are a controversial toxin that has been connected to possible reduction of sperm count, have been noted to contribute to skin cancer, and altered estrogen levels in women.

But, there is good news! Many other body-safe lubricants exist that you can bring with you and request to be used on your body (leave the organic warming or silicone lubricant at home. Bring a simple water-based lubricant). Examples of these are Sliquid H2O or Blossom Organics which are proven safe, organic, and made from natural ingredients. Plus, they are available in handy trial packets that are perfect for one time use. Throw them in your bag and go!

Do you know the ingredients in the lube that is being used in your body? Remember that you can (should) ask, and if necessary, use your own. You doctor should not be using anything on/in your body that you are uncomfortable with.

sliquid h2o blossom organics lubricant

Lastly, another common medical professional mistake can be labeled as ignorance. Be it a lack of education, lack of resources, or refusal to accept reality, it can/does/will happen. Your doctor may be ignorant to new disease information. They may be ignorant to new treatment options. They may be ignorant to reality and holding on to practices from the early 90’s. At any rate, you cannot control their ignorance, but you can certainly ask questions and help yourself if you want a second opinion.  

Example C:**

Let’s cut to the chase: You ask your doctor about safer oral sex practices. Let’s assume that gender is irrelevant in this equation because body fluid is body fluid. Your doctor tells you “Don’t worry about any secretions that you may swallow, the stomach acid will take care of anything that enters it.”

If your doctor is saying this, I want you to bid them a nice day and leave.

Not only is your doctor wrong, they are putting you and your partner(s) at risk.

Did you know:

– Herpes can live for up to 24-hours on a surface outside of the body.

– At a micro-cellular level, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis A,B,C can easily enter through a micro-tear in your mouth, on your lips, or on your skin. There are teeth in your mouth which can easily cause a tear in the skin that you more than likely will never notice. It is winter, consider that your lips and hands can chap, thus causing open tears in your skin.  Since blood, semen, and vaginal secretions are the fastest, and easiest, way to come in contact with infection and disease, one would assume that getting those fluids into a cut would be a problem. Knowing these things help us develop strategies and methods to keeping ourselves safe and healthy.  

STIs (sexually transmitted infections) & STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) are a real threat to people. Organisms need only 1 entry point to create a loss of lifestyle or a loss of life. The best way to prevent transmission (abstinence aside) is through safer-sex practices. The use of dental dams, condoms, female condoms, gloves, and other barriers are always recommended. If your doctor is not educating you, empowering you to use protection, or advocating for the use of protection, it is ok to choose a new doctor. Protecting yourself, not your doctors feelings/reputation should be a #1 priority.  

We have discussed moral obligations as barriers, industry standards as barriers, as well as human limits via ignorance as barriers. This is not meant to scare you. Please do not make yourself vulnerable to panic or have an anxiety attack. No one expects you to set that broken bone on your own – doctors are there to help you. Just remember that you have a voice and you are able to speak up. You are your best advocate!

Thank you for reading.

**These are real examples provided by SP customers from their medical encounters
Bettie is a Social Worker, Certified HIV & Medical Case Manager, and a Certified Infectious Disease & Control Counselor.

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