A hysterectomy is a big deal - Mind The Baby

A hysterectomy is a big deal

So someone who knows a lot about these things has recommended that I should have a hysterectomy. Not today or tomorrow, but sometime in the next few years say, when I am resolute that my family is complete.

I would have thought that something as final as a hysterectomy would in itself be a resolute affirmation that your childbearing years are over. But it would seem that I have to step up to that plate and give my full and complete surety that it is time. I’m hoping I’ll know, rather than just swinging slightly more in favour of no more children than the strength of the niggle that we’re not quite finished.

The thing is though, I feel like I’ve barely got to know my uterus. It seems unfair that when we are just getting to know each other, I have to prepare to say goodbye. We’ve only become properly acquainted in my thirties. It was only then that I discovered the unwelcome contractions of crippling period pain that can send me to my bed; juxtaposed with the reassuring, comfortable then powerful surges of knowing my baby would be in my arms soon. My teens and twenties didn’t pay a blind bit of notice to my uterus as I sailed through painless, clockwork – often pharmaceutically induced – periods. I might as well be having my period as not, so uneventful and invisible my reproductive system was in my life at that time.

I read today that your uterus is the size of a pear. There’s one sitting in our fruit bowl on the kitchen table. Imagine my pear nourished and grew an eight pound baby? It expanded and supported, protected and then encouraged. Within weeks it had snapped back into place, back to pear-sized. What an incredible, powerful organ my uterus is. I am in awe of it.

Why then though, when I possess such an amazing gift of an organ, do people dismiss the significance of its removal from my body? Why do people tell me that I won’t need it any more and what does it matter that it’ll be gone?

“You’ll still be able to have sex, and that’s the most important part”

people have said.

But I don’t have sex with my uterus though, do I? And just because it’s not carrying babies doesn’t mean that I don’t “need” it. I don’t “need” both of my kidneys or half of my liver, but having those removed is a very serious life decision. I probably don’t “need” a couple of my toes. Apparently though, having a hysterectomy is no big deal. Once you’ve recovered from the surgery – a major surgery, with a long recovery time – that you won’t even notice.

I find that very hard to believe.

If it’s no big deal, then why would my body be thrown into menopause earlier than it would have? Why would anybody be talking to me about hormone replacement therapy or increased risk of osteoporosis amongst other side effects from changing hormones? Why do we accept that a hysterectomy is “just one of those things” that is just as likely to happen to a woman as not?

A hysterectomy is a big deal. I won’t be cowed into believing otherwise.

Yes, for many women it provides relief for debilitating symptoms but that doesn’t mean there’s no bitter sweetness about losing your uterus forever.

A uterus is not the definition of a woman, no more than being a mother is. But it has a sacredness about it that should be honoured and its loss mourned. I plan to do both. But not until the time is right.

Feature photo credit: MarkyBon via photopin cc

33 thoughts on “A hysterectomy is a big deal”

  1. Pls. don’t have a hysterectomy unless your uterus is diseased with cancer or fibroid tumors or some other awful condition. Your ovaries continue to serve you even after menopause. And removing an organ can have consequences, such as changes in blood supply to that region of the body or the formation of surgical adhesions that can cause you pain later on. Just because doctors (often men) don’t know what a body part does at various stages of your life doesn’t mean it serves no purpose and you can assume it is disposable. I don’t hear anyone arguing in favor of routine removal of testes in men whose families are complete.

    1. Please stop spreading the myth that fibroids are
      1) A serious disease (this is wrong)
      Fibroids are not a disease. It is a benign condition affecting up to 76% of all women
      2) and require Hysterectomy (false)
      No body part ever needs to be amputated for a benign condition. Fibroids can be treated through ‘shelling’, the benign fibroid us removed leaving the shell and healthy uterus. Myomectomy- the fibroid and fibroid shell are removed, leaving the healthy uterus. High Intensity Focused Ultrasound- non-invasive, up to 4 hrs. The fibroid is located using MRI and a high intenity ultrasound is focused on the fibroid breaking it down and minimising it over 6 minths following the 4 hr non-invasive proceedure. Leaving a healthy uterus!

    1. It’s so reassuring to hear so many people agree with me! I’ve been genuinely shocked at the number of people who have wondered what all the fuss is about! Thanks so much Helen x

  2. Very interesting & well expressed piece…have always thought how hysterectomy is discussed is odd, like you say the removal of no other organ is discussed in the same way! Seems to come back to that attitude (don’t know if it’s just an Irish one or what) that ‘women’s problems’ are just something that you suffer with & get on with your life. I’ve got both pcos & endometriosis & from my experience even a lot of doctors don’t understand these types of problems or appreciate the impact of them. Or on a worse level I could quote the guy from the UN rights committee who said the other day that under Irish law (and therefore it probably filters into Irish attitudes) Irish women are seen purely as ‘vessels’ for bearing children.

    I hope whatever way it works out for you that all goes well and you are healthy 🙂

    1. I can’t but agree with you Jane. Apart my own personal experience, I can’t but feel that there is something inherently misogynistic about “women’s problems” in general. Exactly like you say, that we should just suffer through them and get on with it. The “vessels” comment really resonated with me. Our culture has a lot to answer for.

  3. You are so right. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly and I’d have thought you’d be encouraged to explore alternative treatments before taking this route. It can and does solve many women’s problems, and they go on to be glad of the decision they made. But … it’s not right for everyone. Nor should it be, after all there isn’t just one size dress to fit us all is there! Take your time, research your options but above all, listen to your own instincts!

    1. Thanks for the comment Linda. I just had a look at your site and it’s very informative. I appreciate you taking the time to read. I’m a great woman for instincts!

  4. I was faced with this possibility and terrified about how I would manage my disabled daughter, but instead my symptoms morphed into early menopause and the operation became unnecessary – hopefully something like that (but better obviously!) will happen for you x

  5. You’re right it is a big deal!In Chinese medicine, a lot is made of the unique energies major organs have and if one is removed ( i.e. a uterus) then a vacuum is created and the energy flow is majorly disrupted. I always think its a pity that Western medicine doesn’t see it that way,

  6. Any surgery is a big deal. I can’t understand why anyone would think that removing one of your organs is insignificant. It’s not an easy bit of news to wrap one’s head around. You sound like you are giving yourself time to digest this information and to allow the right path of action to reveal itself. It always does, in time.

  7. I agree a hysterectomy is a big deal and there needs to be a reason for it. In my own case, it was the best thing ever happened to me, after years of bleeding, fibroids and a consultant who held off as he was of the opinion that it was a last resort.
    I was prescribed a Mirena which did indeed help for may years but I am not sure it didn’t have its own knock-on effect in contributing to breast cancer in my 40’s. No breast cancer in my family history.
    When I did have my hysterectomy – part of the treatment for the cancer included drug therapy linked to womb cancer – we proceeded with the hysterectomy. Bliss. In my case.
    In your case? Only you can make a decision. But if there is no health reason, do not get one!

    1. Hi Realtan, thanks so much for commenting and sharing your story. I’m so glad to hear the hysterectomy improved things for you. I hope you are recovering well from your cancer treatment and all is well x

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