Gather around kids, it’s time for #ObGynTales.
Alright, don’t get too excited. We wish this was about some heart-warming children’s film featuring a bumbling mythical beast. But ever since the hashtag hit Twitter, it’s been an explosive way for women to share their experiences with reproductive health care, and it’s not pretty.
Hosted by @genderlogindia, the anecdotes that came up ranged from the shocking to the insensitive to the ridiculous. And each one highlights where we’re going horribly wrong:
— Antara Telang (@AntaraT) October 11, 2017
Visited doc for a possible case of PCOD due to sudden spike in weight.
Doc: *smirks* “aaj kal ke bachhe bhi na”
I was 25. #ObGynTales
— Noopur (@9porcupine) October 11, 2017
I was told years ago to freeze my eggs since they would soon be fried. I never did #ObgynTales.
— Aparna Jain (@Aparna) October 11, 2017
“progressive” gynie: “we’ll worry about PCOS when it’s time for you to have kids” #ObGynTales
— 💚 (@badaboomtheory) October 11, 2017
I remember visiting a obgyn in med school for severe abdominal pain. Her solution was marriage along with a caution tale #ObGynTales
— yashasree (@yashasree) October 11, 2017
In 2015, the National Health Mission found that rural health centres had a massive provider shortage—there were only 23.4% of the required number of obstetricians and gynaecologists. By the following year, things hadn’t gotten much better, as ob-gyns were still missing from 62% of government hospitals. And even at private institutions, there’s no real guarantee your ObGyn will be sensitive!
2/2 just goes to show how these services are still only accessible to the privileged mostly. #ObGynTales
— artika raj (@artikaraj) October 11, 2017
Excruciating pain during periods makes you pass out? Don’t worry, will go away post marriage: Doc advice when I was 10 yrs old #ObGynTales
— Arundhati Ghosh (@ArundhatiGhosh1) October 11, 2017
With conditions like these, things are bound to go awry. Not only are women’s reproductive health care needs being heavily underserved, but the fear of being judged, bullied and shamed by the doctor puts people in a really tight spot:
True story: I didnt meet a gynaec for the longest time because I was SO fucking scared of the judgment. I would self diagnose. #ObGynTales
— பி (@rasamsaadham) October 11, 2017
#ObGynTales I list mom’s num as emergency contact coz she knows everything abt my periods. My clinic asks father/husband name at each visit
— Ayesha Minhaz (@ayesha_minhaz) October 11, 2017
Dare we even ask what happens to trans men and non-binary people who seek out these doctors?
After hundreds of women had had their say, the conversation took an important turn. A very useful document was shared with the Twitterverse. A crowdsourced masterlist of non-judgemental and reliable ObGyns in various Indian cities. The list was compiled by Twitter user Amba Azad three years ago, and is perhaps the only saving grace in this awful situation.
Hopefully, this conversation will continue to swell in the coming days, as more and more women come out with their stories, and share advice and resources with each other. At least until our health institutions learn to root out their prejudices, and make up for their many, many shortcomings.