...woman after woman told me about having a transvaginal ultrasounds in other, medically-necessary contexts: to identify ovarian cysts, to help explain painful menstrual cycles and rule out cancer. All of them thought forcing women to undergo unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds to prove a political point about abortion was horrific; none of them wanted to go on the record about what it was like to have an ultrasound wand inserted into their bodies.
[video - SFW - at the link]
As you might be able to tell, it was vigorously uncomfortable — more than a typical pelvic exam, with which most women are very familiar. In part, it’s more uncomfortable because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of — your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries — so there’s more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body...
It was not, however, like being raped, despite all the furor-generating headlines and “Doonesbury” cartoons that were printed. It was uncomfortable to the point of being painful, emotionally triggering (and undoubtedly is moreso for victims of rape or incest or any woman in the midst of an already-emotional experience) and something that no government should force its citizens to undergo to make a political point. But it wasn’t like being raped — and using language like that not only minimizes rape for its survivors but makes them and other women more frightened of the procedure, which has significant and important medical uses.
28 April 2012
What's it like having a transvaginal ultrasound?
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You left out the part where you have to drink a gallon of water beforehand, enough to make your ovaries float (and make the procedure even more uncomfortable) so they can get a better image.ReplyDelete
Also, for woman with a tight or shallow opening (as is often true of younger women)it's even more uncomfortable
It's not rape, but it's not a procedure anyone should have to undergo unnecessarily.
As a man who has never been raped, I can't comment on how similar the two are; however, anyone forcing me to have something inserted into my genitals for moral reasons is not far from a rapist in my book. These laws spit on the constitution.ReplyDelete
I don't think anyone should be forced into a transvaginal ultrasound especially if they are scared. I do think that someone needs to talk it through and be gentle if it needs to be done. Now saying all of that, I have had a ton of them done. I was also injected plump full of drugs in my abdomen for the majority of them.They we're slightly uncomfortable. But nothing like rape or being touched inappropriately. I've also never had to "drink a gallon of water" I did have to not pee before the examination. But never did they tell me to drink more then what I usually drink before hand.ReplyDelete
Rothwella--the procedure may differ slightly depending on the reason for the ultrasound. In my case they wanted a close look at the ovaries (cancer detection), thus the gallon of water beforehand. Luckily, no drug injections needed for me.ReplyDelete
Many medical procedures (Pap smear, filling, strep culture, etc) vary depending on how much the practitioner cares. I found it to be uncomfortable, but not painful. Certainly not a reason to forego abortion!ReplyDelete
This has to be one of the most outrageous bits of legislation in history. It is shameful to force anybody to undergo a needless and invasive procedure in order to discourage a legal abortion.ReplyDelete
It's not the neutral details of the act that makes it rape, any more than an act of penetrative sex is necessarily rape. It is that it is not medically necessary and coercive. The legal coercion makes it rape.ReplyDelete
I have been raped. Calling this procedure rape in no way minimizes my experience. If I were forced to undergo this, I would feel just as violated as when I was raped with a penis.
Until you have, in fact, been forced to have this procedure, and can evaluate it honestly and objectively, It might be wise to refrain from making this judgment. If you truly have been raped, it's hard to imagine you equating something you have not experienced, with what you have.Delete
Good points by Tanith and Anonymous. Maybe getting the ultrasound is unlike being raped in the "man-in-the-bushes" way, but what planet is that writer living on where that is the only (or even the most prevalent) form of rape??ReplyDelete
Its slightly off topic but the full bladder is required only for the transabdominal part of the pelvic ultrasound. The patient would be asked to empty their bladder for the transvaginal part. Also, they're not technicians, they're technologists.ReplyDelete
I had one 2.5 years ago as the result of an abnormal pap smear. It was not comfortable and I wouldn't want to have to have another one, but given the biopsy I had to have 2 weeks later, I'd rather have the ultrasound than the biopsy. Whatever the case, it was medically necessary and resulted in a very early and small cancer detected and removed surgically without further treatment.ReplyDelete
To be forced to undergo a procedure of no medical value is repugnant morally and ethically. I did get a laugh out of the women legislators who proposed prostate exams as a condition for erectile disfunction medication to men, but that is also morally and ethically repugnant because it is (generally speaking) medically unnecessary.
I am against the government mandate which requires the transvaginal ultrasounds. By certain definitions outlined above, it certainly can be construed as rape, although I think we can all agree that there's a vast difference between what's being done here and what occurs during violent rapes--which presumably is what comes to mind for most people when they think of rape. However, I'm curious how the author is able to state repeatedly and emphatically that the procedure is in no way comparable to a rape unless she herself has been the victim of one. I certainly hope that she has not been, but I saw no mention of that in the article.ReplyDelete
The author of this articles can only speak for herself. The article minimizes the experiences of other women, in spite of claiming to do the opposite.ReplyDelete
HAving undergone fertility treatment to conceive my son, I had one of these done every other day for several weeks for monitoring the effect the medication was having on my follicles. I experienced nothing horrible, nothing worse than a normal, painless pelvic exam, and nothing at all like I would imagine rape to be like. I had very detailed images of my ovaries (and my son, as a follicle!) done without having to drink a large amount of water (in fact was required NOT to have a full bladder), (and to the very best of my biologist knowledge, ovaries don't float when your bladder is full.) I'm sure there are insensitive technologists, and sensitive patients that would mean the individual experience differs from mine variously, but to suggest it is somehow MORE invasive than an abortion, or the sex required to seek an abortion is very strange to me.ReplyDelete
Very well said!Delete
"Date" rape is different from a "gang bang" but both are defined as rape. Rape is forced penetration of a person's body by an object (a broom handle counts, for example) to prove the perpetrator's power over the victim. No "sex" involved. In this sense, the state's proposed requirement of a trans-vaginal ultrasound for no medical reason proves the state's power over the woman. It's a fine line, but it is crossed: Rape.ReplyDelete
Also, while I believe that the procedure is not necessarily unpleasant in all cases, keep in mind that some women take prescribed calming drugs before a routine GYN exam, some people take prescribed calming drugs before a routine dental procedure - some people just get more disturbed by these invasive exams. I know of no man who looks forward to a prostate exam....
It's only not like rape because she volunteered.ReplyDelete
Or is date rape not rape also because the woman is too drunk to remember it.
So many people want to react to the idea of a woman being forced to have this procedure, as if it was happening for absolutely no reason. If this were the case, I would totally agree that it would be highly unethical. But , don't forget, the procedure is to show that there is a heartbeat present, and therefore a baby inside. The women are being asked to consider whether or not to end a life. If they go on to choose abortion, they are choosing procedures that, in most cases, are tremendously more invasive than the ultrasound. I haven't read any complaints about the invasiveness of abortion procedures. And the effects of them are certainly more life altering. It seems that those who complain the loudest in opposition to women being asked to have ultrasounds, are just as politically motivated as any state legislature.ReplyDelete