Why Avoid Hysterectomy

Women can suffer from a number of gynecological conditions that involve their uterus. Unfortunately, the treatment for these often ends with surgery to remove their uterus. We will talk about one of the top reasons that this surgery is performed and a safe, effective treatment (an alternative way to avoid a hysterectomy) that many women still are unaware of.

There is a long history of veiled confusion regarding a woman’s uterus and today we are going to revisit a very small part of it.

Some Hysterectomy History

Spanish philosopher George Santayana is credited with the popular phrase “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Hippocrates first coined the term “hysteria” and attributed its cause to the abnormal movements of the uterus in a woman’s body. Hysteria then became the first mental disorder attributed to women (and only women). It was a catch-all diagnosis for symptoms including but by no means limited to: nervousness, emotional outbursts, tendency to cause trouble, and various sexual urges.

By the 1600s, this “disease” was rampant throughout Europe and eventually made its way to the United States. The treatment for this disease? A doctor massaging a woman’s genitals to get her to orgasm. If recalcitrant to this treatment, she was forced to a mental asylum or when anesthesia became available in the mid-1800s: a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Was the “Cure” for All Female Complaints

Hysterectomy became the “cure” for all female complaints; a Victorian sexual lobotomy. Surely, doctors in the late 20th century would have jettisoned these old-fashioned misogynist ideas, right? Nope!

Surgical texts from the 1960s & 70s:

“Hysterectomy renders a woman more tractable, orderly, industrious, and cleanly.”

One of the most prestigious medical journals “The Lancet” stated in 1987: “…hysterectomy is attractive. Not only is there relief of symptoms, there are other benefits: greater reliability at work, availability at all time for sexual intercourse, savings on sanitary protection, and freedom from unwanted pregnancy.”

“The prevailing medical wisdom holds that the uterus is a disposable organ that serves no useful purpose once a woman has all the children she wants … something of a nuisance.”

The uterus-free woman is depicted as a care-free individual released from the drudgery of uncomfortable and debilitating female problems.

If You Think Things Are Better in the 21st Century, Think Again…

Hysterectomy is still the second most commonly performed surgery in the US, yet a large number of its population (men) aren’t even eligible for this surgery.

The American Medical Association did a study and found that over half of the 650,000 annual US hysterectomies were unnecessary. In fact, according to Gynecologist Dr. Stanley West, author of the book “Hysterectomy Hoax” “more than 90 percent of hysterectomies are unnecessary.  Worse still, this surgery can have long-lasting physical, emotional, and sexual consequences that may seriously disparage a woman’s health and well-being. 90 percent of the time, there are alternatives and only about 10 percent of the operations performed are “medically necessary.”

Women of color are affected by fibroids three times more frequently than Caucasian women and they are twice as likely to lose their uterus as a result. They also often experience more severe symptoms and tend to begin having issues at an earlier age. The average age of a woman undergoing a hysterectomy is <40, and it is becoming more common for women under 30 years old to lose their uterus because of fibroids.

The Real Consequences of a Hysterectomy and Partial Hysterectomy

There are so many reasons why you should avoid a hysterectomy. Consider these questions: What are the physical, mental, and spiritual consequences of having and losing a uterus? What is the meaning of the departure of millions of uteri from this planet, in most instances many years before the departure of their owners?

Physical

  • The hormonal disruptions brought on by the surgery can be far-reaching, affecting the nerve and hormone (neuroendocrine) interactions responsible for a sense of emotional well-being.
  • Pregnancy is no longer possible
  • Many women suffer some type of sexual dysfunction
  • Bowel dysfunction
  • Bladder prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Accelerated aging
  • Many women experience severe menopause symptoms
  • Removing the uterus increases a woman’s risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, memory problems,  and other medical issues.

Mental

  • The incidence of post-hysterectomy depression appears to be widespread. A breast surgeon and respected women’s health expert Dr. Susan Love states that some 30 to 50 percent of women suffer from depression while some other researchers estimate the number to be as much as 70 percent.
  • For some women, the depression is short-lived but for others, it continues indefinitely. As the only organ unique to women, one might say that it is the defining characteristic of a woman. They may experience feelings of grief brought on by the sense of losing their womb and may mourn the loss of the option to become pregnant.
  • After a hysterectomy, depression can occur for biochemical reasons. Hormone levels are disrupted following a hysterectomy and can impact mood management. The chemicals in the brain that help to regulate moods interact with estrogen so when the estrogen level suddenly drops as it will following a hysterectomy, it can cause metabolic changes that exacerbate depression symptoms. These hormone imbalances can also affect other areas of a woman’s mental well-being.

#DontLoseUrU or Why Avoid Hysterectomy

The reasons to avoid hysterectomy are too numerous to count. The #DontLoseUrU campaign was created to end this long history of unnecessary hysterectomies in this country.

One of the key missions of the Atlanta Fibroid Center is to educate all women, but particularly women of color, that hysterectomy for fibroids is completely unnecessary, and that there are other non-surgical options like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE also known as UAE) that will relieve their symptoms, eliminate their fibroids, avoid the risks and long recovery of surgery, and allow them to keep their uterus.

Many women are never offered the choice of uterine fibroid embolization and are unaware of how to avoid a hysterectomy.  Call the Atlanta Fibroid Center to find out if you are a candidate for UFE, especially if you have been given treatment options that you do not agree with. It is always a good idea to get a second opinion.  UFE is 90% effective and can also help women who suffer from adenomyosis

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