Well, some people think I am always happy, but sometimes I can get a little worked up and last week was one of those times. I had a day full of challenging issues- paired with the fact that when I got home the dog left me a special package on the floor. However, I will just give my family the benefit of the doubt that no one saw it to clean it up. Anyway, on to my story…
I had a woman patient that after 20 years, built up the courage to ask me if I would help her with her labia. She had a traumatic experience in her teens that caused what she saw as deformities to her labia. She was ready to let go of this constant reminder of a childhood trauma. Labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure that involves small incisions in the labia majora, labia minora, or both to remove excess tissue, tighten or shaped the area. Recovery for this procedure is relatively straightforward for most patients. We did this in-office procedure and later that evening she had some extra bleeding and went to the ER. There, she was greeted with a fellow female physician. My patient reported to the attending physician that she had a bimanual exam with her doctor along with a labia procedure. Then, believe it or not, the ER physician asked WHY she would even want to do something like this to her body. She went on to say that no other doctor in the ER would help her in this situation because she elected to do this cosmetic procedure.
I am saddened by this story. I am saddened by this situation. And even more so, I am saddened that a fellow woman colleague would make a patient feel this way. My patient had finally worked up the courage to confront her emotions and insecurities about HER body. She was then made to feel guilt and shame for doing so.
I would just like to applaud the woman who finally chose to feel that she could do this for herself. I applaud her courage to face her fear- it is not about the labia- it is about the event and the daily reminder and letting go. The distortion of the labia is so easy to correct. The strength to let go of the memory is the hard part. I am just so sorry that the medical community instead of applauding her for her strength, passed on judgement of shame and guilt. Just remember that any alteration you elect to do with your body, is YOUR choice. No one knows your story or your motivation to make a change.
That same day, I saw another patient who explained she did not want to get pregnant again. Her birthing experience did not go the way she had planned and her recovery was very challenging. As she spoke, she reflected on her experience as a sense of personal failure. She was trying to reconcile her sense of failure with the beautiful moment her baby was born. This is so hard to do when paired with sleeplessness and major hormonal shifts. Somehow as a mom, we are expected to have a major physiological experience and then in a couple of days bounce back into daily life.
I have spent over 2 decades of my life working with women and their reproductive health. Many times their annual exam is a time that women actually let go and feel comfortable telling me how hard life can be. It’s not uncommon for women to wonder if others feels this way and have the same experiences or insecurities.
All women should know, you are not alone. It really does take a village and not everything is perfect. So often we create a Facebook worthy facade that everything is wonderful and perfect. But really, what is perfection anyway? I have no clue and think about it, if all of life’s experiences were perfect, we would never be challenged to grow and find out more about ourselves.
After delivering thousands of babies, I look at the birthing experience as a means to deliver a beautiful baby, no matter how it eventually occurs. That is all.
It is so hard to reconcile an experience that did not meet with our expectations.
No matter how you delivered your baby, you did the best that you could do and that is enough. It bears repeating, you did your best and that is enough.
Do not try to think of a birthing experience ever as failure if it did not mirror the glorified reality TV shows depicting the perfect child birth. No matter what, it is your beautiful moment and a time that one of the most beautiful parts of your life happens.
Just remember to always celebrate the beauty regardless. Yep, I’m certainly not perfect, but I can chose to celebrate the beauty in every situation.
You too can chose to celebrate the beauty of life with others and join the Simple Wellness Community. If you are looking for a community with love, laughter, friendships, family, a sense of place and belonging with no judgments and only positive thinking, then the Simple Wellness Community is for you. See you there.
Dr. Samantha Durland is board-certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Anti-aging and Regenerative medicine and Fellowship trained in Metabolic and Nutritional medicine. Learn more about her ground-breaking philosophy and prescription for wellness- My Simple 7– daily actions to thrive in a strong, healthy and peaceful body. Also, learn more about Dr. Durland’s Simple Weight Loss Plan (which includes the Simple 7-day Detox) and her Simple Hormone Plan to feel like a younger version of yourself.
Thanks for sharing. I too am appalled that a fellow physician would criticize you and the procedure thus making this courageous woman feel like she had done the wrong thing.
Thanks for staying a FB page where we can be truthful about our health struggles as women.
You are an amazing physician that has added so much positivity & joy to my life because you actually listen, never judge and truly want to help your patients. Your commitment to wellness is complete, not just a band aid to move on to the next patient, because you care! I’m so blessed to have found you.