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 1600s, this “disease” is rampant throughout Europe and eventually makes it 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 mid 1800s: 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.
But Things Are Better in the 21st Century, Right? Think Again…
Hysterectomy is still the second most commonly performed surgery in the US, yet ½ 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 700,000 annual US hysterectomies were unnecessary.
According to Gynecologist Dr. Stanley West, author of the book “Hysterectomy Hoax” “more than 90 percent of hysterectomies are unnecessary. Worse still, the surgery can have long-lasting physical, emotional, and sexual consequences that may seriously undermine a woman’s health and well-being. There are alternatives in at least 90 percent of cases and that less than 10 percent of the operations are in fact medically necessary.”
The average age of a woman undergoing hysterectomy is <40 and we have seen countless women who have already lost their uterus <30 years of age from fibroids.
The most common reason why caucasian women undergo hysterectomy is uterine cancer which is appropriate, but the most common reason women of color undergo hysterectomy is benign fibroids.
As the only organ unique to women, one might say that it is the defining characteristic of a woman.
The Real Consequences of a Hysterectomy and Partial Hysterectomy
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?
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, it is minor and short-lived while for others it becomes a chronic state. Other psychological disturbances include mood change, anxiety, and irritability. While there is, no doubt, that feelings of grief can be brought on from a woman’s sense of loss of her womb and the accompanying mourning process, there are also biochemical reasons for this depression. 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 wellbeing.
#DontLoseUrU: Save “U” in More Ways Than One
The #DontLoseUrU campaign was created to end this long history of unnecessary hysterectomies in this country. Be it resolved that our mission at 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 give them the relief of symptoms, completely avoid the risks and long recovery of a surgery, and allow them to keep their uterus.
If you are not sure whether or not you qualify for a UFE, or even if you’ve been told by your doctor that you don’t qualify, ask for a second opinion. Call Atlanta Fibroid Center at 770-953-2600 or make an appointment online.