I launched into gynaecology, the study of the female reproductive system, speculum in hand. The week started off on a sombre note as I witnessed the breaking of bad news first-hand; a lovely lady was told that she had cancer affecting the lining of the womb and would need to have her womb removed in a hopefully life-saving operation called a hysterectomy. The ancient Greeks believed this operation to be a cure for hysteria, a phenomenon mainly affecting women and supposedly caused when the womb (Greek: hystera) was upset or disturbed. The 19th century brought with it a more modern and less radical approach to the problem ? stimulation of the genitals. Vibrators were dished out like lollipops and were in homes long before most of today’s well-known household items. Who would have thought?
An afternoon in the GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic proved to be most revealing in more ways than one. I was surprised at how open the traditionally stiff upper-lipped English were in talking about sex. I spoke to a range of people, from the sexually active under-age to the well spoken middle-aged. I had wondered whether I might bump into anyone I knew, but was thankfully spared any awkward moments. Just an afternoon was enough to hammer home the message of safe sex after seeing the less than appetising results of a moment of heated passion or simply a thoughtful parting gift from an ex. I sat through one particularly funny consultation about contraception; it was here that I discovered the delights of the female condom – the Femidom. An effective method of contraception because as well as acting as a barrier method, it also has the ability to utterly decimate a moment of passion before you can say ‘foreplay’. With the consistency of a heavy-duty carrier bag, an intimate moment sounds more like the unpacking of a weekly supermarket shop. Unsurprisingly, not many choose this method!
My year in the hospital has taken me across the spectrum from newborn babies to end of life care, with a wide variety of common and rare conditions in between. With only a year of medical school left, the end is now in sight; I still feel a world away from being a Doctor but definitely a step closer…