HysteriaBMJ 1994; 309 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.309.6957.814a (Published 24 September 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:814
I admit to an enormous anger at the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology in Britain. When I learnt mine I had already left behind the world of crowded antenatal clinics, health visitor patronised baby clinics, and user unfriendly general practitioners, whose disapproval of young, healthily neurotic mothers beggared belief. Throughout my adult life I have been appalled by and in turn probably appalled most senior staff in that branch of surgery.
When I had my children the lack of cardiotocographs, institutionalised angst, birth plans, and serious analgesia imposed a more fundamental, a more fluent expression of this rite of passage peculiar to women. My first important encounter with obstetricians occurred when I read in my local paper of a woman who was suing a gynaecologist whom, she avowed, had not told her that the hysterotomy he was performing would prevent her bearing any more children. The case was dismissed and I knew that I should have offered to give evidence. But I was planning my return to research and a previous encounter with our local press had made me wary of exposing myself again. Under oath the gynaecologist had said that he always explained any procedure thoroughly. The court believed him. But six months before he had recommended that I should be sterilised - I had three children. Drawing a ridiculous diagram he told me that if I ever wanted another child it was simply a matter of stitching the tubes together. I felt bad about not supporting the …