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  • Writer's pictureErin Stevens

Everyone's an expert

Or don't! You do you!

An overarching theme I've noticed as an OB/Gyn is that people LOVE to feel like they know what's best for other people's uteruses. No matter what recommendations I give a patient as their physician, there will inevitably be someone who "knows better". I hear from patients all the time about the surprising, conflicting, offensive, concerning, hurtful, or confusing comments that they receive from relatives, friends, co-workers, and sometimes people they don't even know. On top of that, there are stories on social media and in public media every day about what's best for your uterus.

Interested in the HPV vaccine? That's bad for you. Just keep your legs closed.

Pregnant under dangerous circumstances? Well pregnancy is magical and everyone I know loves their children. There's never any reason to terminate.

Struggling with infertility? Stop stressing so much. Drink this tea. Wear this bracelet facebook advertised to me.

Needing medication for a miscarriage? That medication is used for termination. I'm not going to let you get it.

Drinking a cup of coffee to battle the fatigue of pregnancy? Don't you care about your baby? Pour it out.

Undergoing routine gestational diabetes screening? Refuse. That's toxic for the baby.

Planning an induction of labor for a pregnancy complication? Don't do it. Your body isn't ready. Your baby will be fine until it's time.

Considering taking advantage of modern medicine and using an epidural for pain control in labor? That's not natural. Avoid the hospital as much as possible. Childbirth isn't medical.

Hoping to avoid postpartum depression? Don't even think about medications. Eat your placenta!

Wanting to use birth control medications? Why would you put chemicals in your body? Try eating these plants instead.

Thinking about an IUD? It will give you infections and end up in your belly and make you infertile.

Dealing with painful periods? CBD oil is the only way to go.

Having irregular periods? Just get in tune with your body and you'll get back on track.

Post-menopausal? Time for a hysterectomy. You don't need that thing anymore! Make sure they take your ovaries. Keep your cervix.

And on and on. Those are all derived from patient conversations over the past few weeks. Sure, there may be some truth to some of the unsolicited advice in some circumstances. Sure, the history of medicine is not free of management errors. But this era of medical distrust, shame culture, and everyone deciding they are an expert based on personal experience or anecdotes or reading a viral facebook post can be truly frustrating and dangerous to people who are just trying to do what's best for themselves and their pregnancies.

If someone gives you uterus advice, find out where they are getting their information. Go straight to the source. Read the studies and find out the stats. Consider who funded the study (maybe question a study funded by the jelly bean industry that promotes the health benefits of jelly beans), what factors might have impacted the results (a study that shows that jelly beans make you healthier wouldn't be a good study if it turned out all the jelly bean eaters were vigorously exercising every day while the jelly bean avoiders never got out of bed), how the study was done (did they ask people about their jelly bean eating from years before or did they follow people over time who were separated into groups exposed to jelly beans or exposed to placebo jelly beans?), how many people were studied (a study of 10,000 people eating or not eating jelly beans gives me more confidence than a study of 10), and what the conclusions actually were (LOTS of news headlines are way off from what a study actually showed; that study probably wasn't even about jelly beans). Consider the ways in which your circumstances may differ from those in the story of the friend of a friend of a friend that guides someone's input for you. Consider that an anecdote suggesting an association may not be at all true (if I ate jelly beans today and didn't crash my car, I can't say that jelly beans prevent car accidents). Be an informed uterus owner.

On the flip side, if you want to tell someone what you think they should do with their uterus, go ahead and don't say anything. If you feel that you must say something, make sure you have good information to support it. If you don't have good information, definitely at least don't be a jerk. If you feel that you must be a jerk, you need to get some help and figure yourself out.

I don't mean to suggest that I am always right about everything all the time. I will freely admit that I am wrong sometimes. I am open to helping people find the best strategy to manage whatever situation they have.

I just wish people cared a little bit less about the goings on of uteruses in other people's bodies.

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