Obstetrics and gynecology are medical expertise making an enormous impact within society. It is responsible for continuing our species; without the specialty’s advancements, maternal and infant mortality rates would still be astronomical, and populations would have struggled through periods when deaths peaked, such as WW1 and WW2. Before antibiotics, blood transfusions, and cesareans, giving birth was fatal. Teenage girls gave birth with no anesthesia; in Victorian England, it is estimated that the MMR rate, a ratio comparing maternal mortality rates against births, was 10.5. This equates to roughly 10% of mothers dying per 1000 births. Steadily, scientific and technological advancements have revolutionized childbirth. Women benefit from a variety of drugs, including gas to full spinal block, and surgery, improving maternal and infant safety. From the beginning of pregnancy, ultrasounds allow obstetricians to monitor the baby. Inducing labor and dilation of the cervix prevents the fetus from getting stuck in the birth canal and becoming distressed. During birth, the fetal heart monitor is vital in guiding obstetricians as to how quickly the baby should be delivered. Emergency cesareans are available, intensive care can resuscitate fetuses, and ventilators can help babies breathe, even if they are weeks premature.
Despite advancements, birth is hazardous, and obstetricians often have to step into perilous situations. A plethora of complications can occur, from the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck to the mother going into shock, and any negligence causes serious damage. It is crucial to realize birth is not safe for all. Difficult births can contribute to postnatal depression, impacting a mother’s ability to bond with her child. Obstetrics plays a major role in a special but terrifying time in women’s and children’s lives. Undoubtedly, the field impacts society immeasurably.
Unfortunately, there is a correlation between increased mortality rates and living in a low-income country; few resources and unsterile conditions are detrimental to pregnancies in less economically developed areas. Countries such as Syria and Iraq are on high alert for maternal mortality. Accordingly, MMR rates show roughly 3%-11% of women are dying per 100,000 births. It is imperative that humans divert attention towards obstetrics and gynecology and recognize its colossal impact on society to improve these worrying statistics. Awarding more funding to this crucial field could send teams to struggling countries and focus on infection control, bleeding management, and providing education on pregnancy complications, the principal causes of mortality.
Furthermore, gynecology has an invaluable impact on society because of the contraceptive options it offers women, allowing reproductive rights and preventing a patriarchal system where pregnancy prevents women from having freedom over their sexuality. Removing the mini pill, IUD coil, and abortion means women would be sexually restricted, making them unable to engage in intercourse without the threat of unwanted pregnancy. Since abortion was legalized, fewer women have undertaken risky procedures, and a rising number of women are choosing to have terminations safely, rather than resorting to underground “backstreet” clinics that were historically responsible for many vulnerable young women’s deaths, desperate to abort. Through providing contraception, such as condoms, gynecology has reduced the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. If more funding were offered, specialist gynecologists could prioritize areas, offering education, helping to reduce the transmission of AIDs, especially in less economically developed countries where family planning facilities and access to contraception is still worryingly limited.
Evidently, obstetrics and gynecology have a prodigious impact on society. Not only does it reduce deaths and support the human race, but it also offers options to women and actively reduces sexually transmitted diseases, a pressing issue affecting our liberal society. Without the care this specialty offers women, birth would still be extremely perilous.
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Office for National Statistics, “Trends in births and Deaths over the last century” 2015 Jul; https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/articles/trendsinbirthsanddeathsoverthelastcentury/2015-07-15
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