Doctors need to talk to women about reproductive coercion


According to a group of ob-gyns, more doctors should be opening a dialogue with their female patients about whether the men in their lives are trying to coerce their reproductive potential – either to have babies or not have babies, or exposing them to sexually transmitted disease or in any other way pressuring them to have sex.

Contraceptive sabotage

“What we’re talking about is specific to women and girls’ ability to contracept, to control their reproductive health,” said Jay Silverman. He studies violence against omen at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. “What we’ve found is that many male partners are more actively involved than we would have thought in really blocking women and girls’ ability to do that, as a form of control that’s part of a larger picture of violence against women and girls.”

An issue of control

One recent study of the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that 25% of callers had experienced reproductive coercion. “All different forms of violence and coercion of women and girls from male partners are based in the entitlement to control their lives, physically and otherwise,” Silverman continued. “They also feel entitled to decide whether she’s going to get pregnant or not.”

A third of all women have experienced violence

The CDC states that almost a third of all women have experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by a partner. As a result, the government backed US Preventive Services Task Force called on doctors to screen their female patients for domestic violence and refer those women to intervention services.

Doctors can provide a safe place and need to start talking

In the case of “contraceptive sabotage”, doctors can provide concealable birth control like emergency contraceptive pills packaged in plain envelopes or intrauterine devices with trimmed strings. Doctors need to provide a safe place to discuss what is going on in the intimate lives of their patients. “It is incredibly important that these are issues that are asked about, because if we don’t understand the context in which a woman is attempting to contracept, then we re not often giving her the tools to be effective to do that,” concluded Silverman.

Source: Reuters


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