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When Physicians Talk About Hysterectomy (It’s Cringe-Inducing)

July 7, 2008

Head on over to the Our Bodies Ourselves blog to find out why I found letters between a couple of male ob/gyns regarding hysterectomy kind of cringe-worthy.

Hint: I’m pretty sure a car and a vagina are not the same thing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. onesillyme permalink
    July 7, 2008 2:19 pm

    Interesting. When I had my hysterectomy, I was *told* to have it done vaginally but chose the abdominal route. The main reason was that I wanted to keep my cervix (there was nothing wrong with it!).

    My grandmother had a hysterectomy in the 1930’s when it was apparently common to leave the cervix. During a bladder surgery in the 50’s, her cervix was removed “so you won’t get cancer” while the doc happened to be in the neighborhood. (There was no reason to believe she had or was at risk for cervical cancer.) From there, she had problems with painful intercourse. As did my mother and sister-in-law, who had vaginal hysterectomies with cervix removed. My understanding is, it has to go if you go that route.

    Needing a hysterectomy but also enjoying my sex life, I did some reading and shopped until I found a doctor who would leave it. Granted this is not a peer-reviewable study, but in my little family experimental group the woman with the cervix preserved is the happier for it. And while they were there, my very crooked c-section scar got straightened out and minimized.

    In general, we do way too many c-sections and hysterectomies in the U.S. but when they’re necessary women need ALL relevant information to make a decision that suits their individual medical condition, needs and preference. I don’t think it’s too much for doctors to discuss procedural options, doctor/facility financial incentives, morbidity risks for each, possible sexual effects, etc. Informed consent… what a concept!

  2. July 7, 2008 2:26 pm

    Onesillyme – thanks for your comment, and you’re right to point out that not all performed hysterectomies are really necessary, other issues that may play into decision-making, etc. Maybe we could start on that informed consent path by having folks refrain from equating surgery to changing spark plugs!

  3. July 7, 2008 3:01 pm

    Whether the uterus is removed vaginally, abdominally, robotically, or with a magic wand, the aftermath of female organ removal is real and predictable.

    The ovaries (the female gonads) are removed from about 75% of women during hysterectomy, and 35-40% of the ovaries that are retained cease to function after the uterus is removed, resulting in a defacto castration.

    Visit http://hersfoundation.org/ to watch the HERS Foundation’s “Female Anatomy” video and empower yourself with information about what women consistently report after hysterectomy.

    It’s your right to know.

  4. July 11, 2008 1:23 pm

    I remember years ago reading about how Australian obstetricians were actually advised how to maximise their income throughout the lives of their patients, including recommending elective caesarians and hysterectomies as soon as women had had enough children then straight on to HRT.

    I was shocked at the time (and possibly a little naive) but I wouldn’t put it past that happening in any of the first world countries nowadays.

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