Reporter Megan Carpentier undergoes ‘unnecessary’ transvaginal ultrasound to frame abortion debate
Yahoo: Plenty of pundits on both sides of the ideological aisle have weighed in on the country’s ongoing abortion debate and the transvaginal ultrasound mandates passed by several states—what some people argue is part of the GOP’s so-called “war on women.” But few have actually gone through the procedure—which is why Megan Carpentier, executive editor of the progressive news site Raw Story, decided to have a “completely unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound” and document the experience for readers.
“It was vigorously uncomfortable,” Carpentier wrote, partly “because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of—your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries—so there’s more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body.”
You’re also not lying flat on your back (yet the picture on her web site shows a woman doing just that) to facilitate access to the upper reaches of your vagina; and you’re being penetrated with a longer, rigid object than is used in a regular pelvic exam. In my case, as the technician explained after, my uterus is “high,” or tilted toward my abdomen, so she had to tilt the wand accordingly—and because it was so uncomfortable, she halted the exam before fully exploring my Fallopian tubes or ovaries. If I had been pregnant (which I knew I was not), the exam might have lasted longer as she looked to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and locate the minuscule gestational sac.
It was not, however, like being raped, despite all the furor-generating headlines and “Doonesbury” cartoons that were printed. It was uncomfortable to the point of being painful, emotionally triggering (and undoubtedly is moreso for victims of rape or incest or any woman in the midst of an already-emotional experience) and something that no government should force its citizens to undergo to make a political point. But it wasn’t like being raped—and using language like that not only minimizes rape for its survivors but makes them and other women more frightened of the procedure, which has significant and important medical uses.
She concluded: “It’s not a choice to be made at a distance by elected officials with an ideological axe to grind, little medical knowledge and a belief that it’s acceptable to require doctors to put unnecessary instruments inside women’s bodies in an effort to achieve in practice what they can’t constitutionally pass into law: an end to abortion.”
Let’s compare the transducer device used in a transvaginal ultrasound and the speculum, used in a pap smear.
I have had a transvaginal ultrasound (and I was upright during the procedure) and I can tell you that it was no way near as bad as the speculum, which is much more rigid than the transducer device.
According to Medline Plus, the procedure for a transvaginal ultrasound is:
You will lie down on a table with your knees bent and feet in holders called stirrups. The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel. The probe sends out sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these waves and uses them to create a picture. The doctor can immediately see the picture on a nearby TV monitor. The test is usually painless, although some women may have mild discomfort from the pressure of the probe. Only a small part of the probe is placed into the vagina.
According to RadiologyInfor.org, the procedure is described as: “The tip of the transducer is smaller than the standard speculum used when performing a pap test. A protective cover is placed over the transducer, lubricated with a small amount of gel, and then inserted into the vagina. Only two to three inches of the transducer end are inserted into the vagina.”
Ms. Carpentier’s experience may have been worse than mine, yet one needs to go into both these exams being relaxed. The more nervous you are, the more unpleasant the exams will be.
As for this being a unnessary procedure before a woman has an abortion, don’t you want to have all knowledge of a procedure before you begin it? Why are these women so afraid to see their baby in an ultrasound before they rip it from their womb? Why the war on babies and keeping a woman from seeing the reality of what an abortion is truly about? Heaven forbid a woman see her child. That just might cause a pregnant woman to re-consider her “right” and recognize the right of a child to live.