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emmaberry101

Obgyn And Convent?

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Chiquitunga
[quote name='Chiara Francesco' timestamp='1346634137' post='2477710']Of course, I've come across a few communities (mostly Carmels) who all they wanted was a letter from your doctor saying that your health was either great, good or adequate and list, if any, health concerns or problems the woman had. No psych exam, no blood work, chest xray, etc. Very inexpensive, quick and easy to obtain![/quote]
This has been my experience of Carmel too. I was in a Carmel and only had to have a simple physical and statement good health to enter.. no psych exam, blood work (perhaps that, a simple blood test) chest xray or obgyn, etc.

At another Carmel I asked if they had health insurance and they said they didn't but had savings for that and that they were blessed to be not far from a Catholic hospital that would often offer them free services. They said the Sisters always have a Sister to accompany them. They (the Prioress) also said that they do not receive all the tests that ordinary people in the world do... which perhaps meant obgyn/other tests. I didn't think to ask at the time, but next time I will. Emmaberry, I'm in the same boat as you! Thanks for being brave enough to bring up the topic.

On another note, I know that it was the norm in the past for cloistered nuns to have doctors visit them and they could enter the enclosure (as has been mentioned already) rather than the nuns going out.. though I am sure sometimes they would have to. In Valparaiso at least, you don't have to go out to the dentist, as they have their own dental room in the enclosure, [url="http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/alumni/dentist-sisters-thomas-hart-dds-91"]http://www.thomasaqu...mas-hart-dds-91[/url] pretty sweet!! :like: Edited by Chiquitunga

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Antigonos
[quote name='emmaberry101' timestamp='1346626122' post='2477679']
My questions in this post contain somewhat adult content concerning the OBGYN, which is better suited for the 18+ board, but it's a topic relating more to VS. Read at your own discretion.

[spoiler]I am wondering if, in the convent, the Sisters are required to go get pelvic exams, mammograms, and OBGYN-related (or just woman related) checkups. Since they are not having children, I didn't know if they still needed all the things of that nature. On my application, my doctor deferred my pelvic exam and said, "You don't need those kinds of tests where you're going!" I thought that a bit odd-though admittedly I was relieved! I just think this must be mortifying for some of the Sisters who enter right out of high school .. I know it is a matter of health, but it still seems strange to think of a convent of Sisters loading up to go get their pap smears! I appreciate any information or advice you may have about these things, and May God reward you![/spoiler]
[/quote]

Unfortunately, being a virgin does not relieve a woman from gynecological problems [although obstetric problems are rare--giggle]. In fact, women who are sexually inactive have a different set of gyn problems in some ways that sexually active women are less liable to! And ALL women can get cervical, ovarian, or breast cancer although it is true that those with certain genetic markers for the latter two are much more liable than those without the gene. PCOS [polycystic ovary syndrome], uterine myomas [benign tumors of the uterus, which are hormonally dependent, and can bleed and cause pain], endometritis, menorrhagia [exceptionally heavy periods], metrorrhagia [frequent or irregular periods] and dysmenorrhea [painful menstruation], as well as all forms of vaginitis are conditions that all women can have, no matter whether they are cloistered nuns or wives and mothers. About the only condition that nuns should be free of is pregnancy :hehe2: and I wouldn't want to claim it's never happened in the two millennia the Church has been in existence :unsure: The current medical opinion about Pap smears is that they can be done every three years unless a woman has a history of an abnormal one, btw.

While it would be sensible for every community to have regular medical, dental, and gyn checkups for the sisters, I suppose it is one of those things that varies with the community.

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emmaberry
[quote name='MaterMisericordiae' timestamp='1346645960' post='2477776']
I know what you mean! I went to the OB/Gyn at 19 even though I have never been active and felt uncomfortable being surrounded by pregnant and married women. But, my mom insisted that since we have so many cancers in our family history, it's best to keep up with the best healthcare. A few years ago (2010), my grandmother was diagnosed with endometrial/uterine cancer so my OB/Gyn told me that it is important to get yearly physicals to make sure I don't get it.
[/quote]
Your poor grandmother! I hope she is alright.

[quote name='Chiquitunga' timestamp='1346649227' post='2477798']
This has been my experience of Carmel too. I was in a Carmel and only had to have a simple physical and statement good health to enter.. no psych exam, blood work (perhaps that, a simple blood test) chest xray or obgyn, etc.

At another Carmel I asked if they had health insurance and they said they didn't but had savings for that and that they were blessed to be not far from a Catholic hospital that would often offer them free services. They said the Sisters always have a Sister to accompany them. They (the Prioress) also said that they do not receive all tests that ordinary people in the world do... which perhaps meant obgyn/other tests. I didn't think to ask at the time, but next time I will. Emmaberry, I'm in the same boat as you! Thanks for being brave enough to bring up the topic.

On another note, I know that it was the norm in the past for cloistered nuns to have doctors visit them and they could enter the enclosure (as has been mentioned already) rather than the nuns going out.. though I am sure sometimes they would have to. In Valparaiso at least, you don't have to go out to the dentist, as they have their own dental room in the enclosure, [url="http://www.thomasaquinas.edu/alumni/dentist-sisters-thomas-hart-dds-91"]http://www.thomasaqu...mas-hart-dds-91[/url] pretty sweet!! :like:
[/quote]
I wish my application had been so 'easy'-I don't want to imply that yours was a breeze, but I felt like the Roswell application was the equivalent of a modern college application. I was happy to do it, but that's great that your former community didn't require a psych test or other extras. You must have seemed very sane. :hehe:

That's wonderful about the Carmel near a Catholic hospital. In A Right to Be Merry, Mother Francis mentioned the nearby nursing sisters at the hospital, and I think the PCCs had many operations done for free. The Sisters (and the Catholic hospital) are gone now, but that is certainly an ideal situation for the nuns!

I don't know where you find these articles but I am grateful! I would have never come across that on my own. How interesting-all those Catholic dentists. The 'going out vs having doctors visit' debate is something that makes me realize how true it is that we are called to a particular community! I love that the Roswell PCCs are so poor that they cannot install a room for dental exams, so they have to leave the enclosure for that. Then again, I am sure (one of the many!) girls called to the JMJ Carmel love that the nun's built that to reinforce their enclosure so they wouldn't have to go out.

Also, no need to thank me on the thread. My main fear was whether I would get a PM from an admin saying that the topic was inappropriate for VS! VS really is such a supportive and understanding place, and everyone is so wonderful here! There aren't many places on the internet where I would've felt comfortable asking these questions. No, I am not paid by dUst. :P

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somethingfishy
Women who have never been pregnant have an increased risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. And while breast cancer is often curable, the last two don't have such a good prognosis and once you have symptoms it's often too late to do much. So get your annual exam, because it's a lot less scary than dying of cancer.

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OnlySunshine
[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1346651575' post='2477807']
Your poor grandmother! I hope she is alright!
[/quote]

She is, thank God! We didn't learn about her diagnosis until after her surgery because she is the kind of person that tries to keep everything about her health (and my grandfather's) a secret. It drives us crazy! She doesn't realize that prayerful support is so important in those instances. She had a radical hysterectomy and radiation therapy and has been in remission ever since. She was 75 when the diagnosis was made.

Cysts run in our family, too. It seems everyone gets them at one time or another. :hehe2:

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Antigonos
It would also seem quite possible that in communities situated in urban areas it would be not too difficult to find a female OB/GYN. In rural areas it might be more difficult, but even so, with help from the local diocese, it might be possible to find a woman doctor, especially a Catholic doctor, willing to make a trip every so often [once or twice a year] to the convent to check everyone out. Obviously, in serious conditions, like cancer, the earlier detected, the higher the percentage of cure. Certified nurse-midwives can take Pap smears, as well as doctors, btw.

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krissylou
[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1346645468' post='2477771']
I go to the OBGYN quite often, and I am in a VERY Southern area (with all the typical stereotypes of the South). You'd be amazed some of the glares I got at 14 sitting in the waiting room. I wanted to wear a shirt that said "True Love Waits" just so they'd know I wasn't there for sexual/pregnancy-related purposes. Not a fun place to be when you have no ring on your finger and you are in 'the South,' so to speak.
[/quote]

Could you use this as an opportunity to pray in solidarity with teenagers who are pregnant and alone and scared?

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Chiquitunga
[quote name='cmariadiaz' timestamp='1346633992' post='2477709']
In the last religious community that I was in, there was a young sister who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I don't think she was more than 30.

OBGYN visits are part of normal routine preventative care, even if not sexually active. And there are other exams (ex: transvaginal ultrasounds) that can be used to diagnose problems, particularly involving the ovaries.

I think the key here is to pay attention to your body. The sister who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer ignored what her body was telling her, because that particular community really wasn't too accepting of anyone who got sick. She didn't speak up -- and unluckily the consequences was cancer that was at a more advanced stage than if she had spoken up when something with her body wasn't right. That is true regardless of where you enter, or if you marry, or if you stay single.
[/quote]
Cmaria, just wondering.. how is she? :( .. :pray: Can you say, did she have to leave the community because of this? How difficult..

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emmaberry
[quote name='krissylou' timestamp='1346677786' post='2477846']
Could you use this as an opportunity to pray in solidarity with teenagers who are pregnant and alone and scared?
[/quote]
That's a great idea! I never used it as an opportunity to pray, but it did make me realize what young pregnant girls or girls being tested for STDs go through-at least here down South. I don't know if glaring at young girls at the OBGYN is quite as common up North. :)

I pray outside abortion clinics, and it made me more compassionate towards the girls walking into the clinic..because, I can stare at them or judge them or whatever, but I don't really know what's going on with her. Maybe she's not having an abortion..maybe she's there for a consultation or an ultrasound (doubt it though). That little experience at the doctor's office just made me more aware than I never have a full enough picture to instantaneously and definitely judge someone.

[color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)][quote name='Antigonos' timestamp='1346659146' post='2477831']
It would also seem quite possible that in communities situated in urban areas it would be not too difficult to find a female OB/GYN. In rural areas it might be more difficult, but even so, with help from the local diocese, it might be possible to find a woman doctor, especially a Catholic doctor, willing to make a trip every so often [once or twice a year] to the convent to check everyone out. Obviously, in serious conditions, like cancer, the earlier detected, the higher the percentage of cure. Certified nurse-midwives can take Pap smears, as well as doctors, btw.
[/quote]
It would be such a relief to have a woman do these kinds of tests, which is probably immature on my part. If I were in the cloister and had hardly even [i]seen[/i] a man for years, I would prefer a woman to do the pap smear! I did not know that certified nurses could do it also...[/background][/size][/font][/color] Edited by emmaberry

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Chiquitunga
[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1346707064' post='2477971'][color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]It would be such a relief to have a woman do these kinds of tests, which is probably immature on my part. If I were in the cloister and had hardly even [i]seen[/i] a man for years, I would prefer a woman to do the pap smear! I did not know that certified nurses could do it also...[/background][/size][/font][/color]
[/quote]

NO WAY is that immature! That is totally your personal decision, which must be respected. There are plenty of women in the world, also married, who prefer a woman obgyn.

p.s. I think the person who would tell you that is immature is the immature one. Edited by Chiquitunga

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andibc
[quote name='somethingfishy' timestamp='1346653580' post='2477814']
Women who have never been pregnant have an increased risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.[/quote]
This is probably linked to the use of contraceptives which are class 1 carcinogens. If you can link back to the study, it probably speaks to that issue. From what I have read
[quote]Thus, sexually inactive women rarely develop cervical cancer[/quote]
http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/tc/cervical-cancer-screening-health-professional-information-nci-pdq-significance
and while I can't site the source because I read it a few years ago, I do remember a study on the amazing over all health, rare cases of alzheimer and low rates of cancer in cloisters. I don't remember the orders, but the sisters were in habits, cloistered and they were getting growing. If I come across the article, I post it.

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emmaberry
[quote name='andibc' timestamp='1346708669' post='2477974']
This is probably linked to the use of contraceptives which are class 1 carcinogens. If you can link back to the study, it probably speaks to that issue. From what I have read

[url="http://www.webmd.com/cancer/cervical-cancer/tc/cervical-cancer-screening-health-professional-information-nci-pdq-significance"]http://www.webmd.com...dq-significance[/url]
and while I can't site the source because I read it a few years ago, I do remember a study on the amazing over all health, rare cases of alzheimer and low rates of cancer in cloisters. I don't remember the orders, but the sisters were in habits, cloistered and they were getting growing. If I come across the article, I post it.
[/quote]

Oh, yes. In A Right to Be Merry, Mother Francis says that Poor Clares made up a song called 'Poor Clares Seldom Die.'

You are probably right about the birth control linking to childless woman having increased rates of 'womanly' cancers. Safe to say the nuns probably don't have that issue.

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OnlySunshine
[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1346707064' post='2477971']
[color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]It would be such a relief to have a woman do these kinds of tests, which is probably immature on my part. If I were in the cloister and had hardly even [i]seen[/i] a man for years, I would prefer a woman to do the pap smear! I did not know that certified nurses could do it also...[/background][/size][/font][/color]
[/quote]

My mom thinks it's every woman's decision and I agree. However, from personal experience, my male ob/gyn is very cautious about pain during examination. He always makes sure you are as comfortable as possible. My cousin had a female ob/gyn during her first pregnancy who turned out to be very curt during exams. She thought that you should be able to endure a little bit to get the exam over sooner. It took me a while to get used to my male ob/gyn but I'd prefer one that was cautious to a woman who wasn't. :blush:

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mme_hardy
[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1346707064' post='2477971']
I pray outside abortion clinics, and it made me more compassionate towards the girls walking into the clinic..because, I can stare at them or judge them or whatever, but I don't really know what's going on with her. Maybe she's not having an abortion..maybe she's there for a consultation or an ultrasound (doubt it though).
[/quote]

I think that your decision to pray but not to judge is loving and Christlike. About Pap smears -- yes, you can totally ask for a female; whether it's a nurse-practitioner or a female OB/GYN it isn't at all an unreasonable request, and lots of women prefer that.

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cartermia

So I know this thread is dead by a long time but I am just going to post here in case someone else (lurker and commoner) needs to read it. 

I was recently diagnosed with PCOS and have seen that multiple people posting on this thread have at well. When I was diagnosed just last week, my first thought was "can I still enter because of this?" My doctor has me on a form of hormonal birth control (not sexually active so its morally okay) and Metformin (I hope I spelled that right.) My doctor was one of the first people to actually research about possible treatments for PCOS and this is the treatment he has seen that has worked the best with people. 

The reason why that thought popped into my head was, because you know how you have to put on applications to go visit what medications you are on and if you have any health problems? I am hesitant about putting that I am on a hormonal birth control because most Catholics automatically think that it is evil. I don't know if it is a pride thing. I know of a woman who was turned away years ago from a convent due to health reasons and I just really don't want hat to be me. 

It reassured me seeing that other people also had PCOS and were actively discerning. Please pray for me because the side effects of the medicines are really getting to me right now (massive cramps and bloating for the past week) and so that I can honestly bring this up when I go visit communities this March and July. 

Thank you all so much! I hope someone else learning something from this post like I did so that I am not just resurrecting a dead post. 

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Antigonos

As a retired nurse-midwife, I am sure that any community of women has and is dealing with a variety of gynecology problems.  This isn't the Middle Ages, after all.  Hormonal birth control pills are used for a variety of other conditions besides contraception, such as PCOS, menorrhagia and metrorrhagia, severe side effects of menopause, acne.  Metformin is a major medication for type 2 diabetes as well as some other medical and GYN conditions.  It's also inexpensive.

I wouldn't worry about disclosing your medical history.

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katherineH

There are certain religious communities with religious sisters as medical doctors, and I know that other communities will send their sisters to see them.  For example, the RSM of Alma operate a clinic in Alma staffed by their sisters and religious and priests from all over the country travel to them for their health needs.  So that's an option in addition to finding a pro-life doctor in the sisters' geographical area. I imagine that a sister would be very understanding of the initial discomfort a sister might feel at the idea of an internal exam. 

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SNJM

One thing that should be considered is how a religious woman (or community) would like to live their vow of poverty. Women in poverty do not have access to medical care, tests, treatments and the like - including this very country. I have actually known some religious (active) Sisters who chose to "give" their entire selves to God and to accept whatever may be. That being said, for the majority of us here, who do live in the United States, many believe that we have an obligation to care for our bodies in the same way we care for others, the earth, whatever has been given into our care.  It is true that we do have amazing access to medical care and preventive care is really important; for the mission of the community as well as the financial stewardship of the community as well. If a woman had breast cancer and it was untreated (let's say it could have been easily removed through a lumpectomy) and then metastasized into crippling bone cancer,  the resources of the community  - both financially as well as physically - now rest on the community itself to help this woman as she faces the consequences (could be very complicated) of her metastasized cancer. A Sister who is in this state could obviously need pain medication, help with simple duties, etc., all of which - depending upon the community, could either be very expensive or time consuming. So while it might sound "faith-filled" to give one's health issues to God, if one is really intent upon entering a community, one must consider how their choices might affect others. 

Lastly, nobody likes preventive health care visits. If one is really concerned about this, and about to enter a community, and is lucky enough to have medical care offered to them, I suggest that you graciously accept the doctor's appointment as a steward of the body God gave you in an effort to be a healthy member of the community.  Imagine if you were later diagnosed with something that could have been prevented, you refused and now are a burden on the community you had originally hoped to bolster. 

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