Credit: Liberty Antonia Salder of Metro.

The other day, I went to the CDC (Centro Diagnostico Cernaia) office in Torino to check the position of my Mirena IUD. Something just felt wrong, so I decided to make an appointment a month earlier than the doctor who inserted it had recommended. Unsurprisingly, it was not in position. My only option is to remove and replace it, since it cannot be re-positioned; Mirena’s only come with “one shot.”

Needless to say, I was infuriated because it was directly related to a lack of care and a lack of attention on the part of the doctor who inserted it. Plus, all of these visits to either cause me pain or do absolutely nothing were starting to rack up, making it harder to afford them. I’d also have to buy the IUD all over again all because a doctor decided to ignore my needs.

A month ago, at the end of June, I had my IUD replaced. This procedure was hell. Everything was normal until the doctor tried to insert the IUD. Before he ‘released’ it, I kept telling him to stop. It hurt way too much, and I was literally in tears the entire time. It felt like my uterus was being ripped from inside me using a harpoon. I had never been in such excruciating pain in my life (and I’ve managed to injure myself quite a lot because I’m so accident prone).

What made it worse is that the doctor did not listen to me. He decided to continue the procedure that he didn’t have to continue immediately. This was despite my obvious discomfort and uncontrollable sobs and despite the fact that I repeatedly told him to stop because I couldn’t handle that amount of pain.

But, since he continued, he ‘released’ the IUD into my uterus. The cramps were beyond anything I’d ever felt before; they wouldn’t stop, even after I retrieved and took the medication he’d prescribed for me to “hopefully make things work well.”

When everything was finished, he followed up with an “apology” (not an apology): “There was ‘something’ in the way; there was ‘some blockage’. It was very difficult to ‘get through’. This is why I don’t like doing these procedures in the CDC.”

At the time, I literally wanted to die.

This is not about whether or not IUDs are good or bad. I love having the Mirena IUD, and I plan to replace it as soon as I can; it is, considering the world we live in, the best option available to me. This was the fourth one that I’ve had since I was 17, but it was the first one that I had put in while residing in Italy (two others were put in while I lived in St. Louis, and the third was put in when I lived in Sydney).

This is about the fact that this particular insertion of an IUD was incredibly traumatic, and not only because of the pain. It was largely because of the fact that, once again, a “medical professional” had refused to listen to me and my needs. He could have removed everything and given me time to calm down. He could’ve helped me to reschedule an appointment. He didn’t need to rush everything.

Instead, he performed a normal procedure that felt like he was raping me (and, honestly, I have been through that as well).

All of this trauma, though, could have been avoided. Ten years ago, and every year since, I have been very open about asking my gynaecologists one simple question: How can I sterilise myself?

But once more, it’s all because of the world we live in that I have not yet been able to. Instead, I have to put up with a number of ridiculous fights and arguments because someone else knows better than I do, apparently.

I have never wanted children. From the age of 15, I have read so many stories about pregnancies and the difficulties, and I have always felt that it was a process that I have never wanted to endure. I’ve always known that I cannot handle children younger than five because they cannot communicate in ways that I understand. It really frustrates me because, even as much as I want to help them, I’m not sure if I can or how; that gives me incredibly anxiety.

These feelings have never wavered, either; they’ve only gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older. I love children, honestly; I work with teenagers, and I enjoy working with kids in primary school. But I still have no desire to have a biological child. If it hasn’t been an imperative for me since I was 15, and I’m still not remotely interested, don’t you think that I should be allowed to make the decision about whether or not to sterilise myself?

Most doctors apparently don’t. I always receive the exact same response: “But what if you change your mind?”

At the time of writing, I am 33. It has been almost seventeen years since I first realised that I didn’t want children of my own. I think, honestly, I am capable of making a permanent decision that will greatly help my mental and physical health and decrease my levels of anxiety around sex.

But they continue: “What if your partner (current or future) wants children?”

My immediate response to this is: I genuinely do not care. This is my body. If my partner wants children, they are more than welcome to go find someone else. I do not need them, should that be their desire.

My more delayed response is: I’m queer. What if my partner has a uterus? What if we biologically cannot get pregnant? What if my partner, should they have a penis, be infertile? You’re assuming a lot about my relationship status and its continuation.

Just because, at the moment, I am dating a cisgender straight man does not mean that a) this relationship will last forever (not that I’m saying I want it to end, mind you) or b) that my future partner will always be able to impregnate me.

What you’re saying is that society needs for me to have children for some reason (and it’s never going to be a good one). What you’re saying is that your beliefs get to have more of a say over my body than I am allowed, even though I’m the one stuck with it.

What you’re telling me is that you can make assumptions about what you think my life should be, that you get to go ahead and do whatever you want to my body because you have a diploma and “expertise” that should shut me up and believe you.

What I’m hearing is that you don’t care about my health, especially if you’re making me fight for a procedure that will make me feel safer in my own skin.

And the feeling that I’m constantly getting? Is that you shouldn’t be a “medical professional” because you don’t really care about your patients or their well-being.

All for the sake of your own beliefs.

I’m not the only person who has gone through and dealt with this struggle. There are a number of us who are fighting to have this decision. There are TED Talks (such as this one by Christen Reighter) on how defining ‘womanhood’ as ‘motherhood’ have made it far more difficult (even if I, personally, don’t identify as a woman). There are a number of articles discussing this topic, including the condescension that people face, the sexism behind the push against it, the many reasons why people want to sterilise themselves, the battles to find a doctor who is even willing to support them in the decision, and how people who’ve made the decision feel unburdened afterwards and a sense of relief.

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