Tuesday, January 3, 2012

7/29/11 - On Supposedly Being Less of a Woman

In May of this year I had one ovary, my uterus and my cervix removed. The offending ovary had grown a cyst the size of a cantaloupe. Thank (insert deity of your choice here) it was benign. To be completely honest, I am not really sure why they automatically take the uterus out in such a situation, as the baby-sack had done nothing wrong as far as the Doctor was concerned. I’m not complaining mind you, I’ve wanted it gone since my husband got a vasectomy a few months after our son was born.
We were and continue to be 100% confident in our decision to create only one offspring. Therefore, once he was snipped, what point was there in my dealing with the monthly pain in the ass…er, vagina? I hate to complain, as I know many woman have far worse periods than I did, but even on the best months they were an annoyance.
I found myself in recent years feeling downright angry about Aunt Flo coming to town. The worry of bleeding through was always a real concern of mine…for good reason. Of course, I would be lying if I said it stopped me from doing anything; horseback riding, motorcycling etc. But it added an extra step and level of worry to whatever was going on that someone, namely someone with a penis, never had to deal with. It felt so very unfair, and quite frankly pissed me off.
And then the cyst arrived. There were a couple of weeks there when we realized that itcould very well be cancerous. That was to be honest, a pretty sucky time. The emotions and thoughts that go on during that kind of experience are another post for another day. But when I found out, that no matter what the biopsies said they were removing the uterus, I was elated. I said it then, and I’ll say now; if going through what I had to go through surgery/recovery means no period ever again, sign me the hell up!
As I researched the surgery and recovery (as a librarian is wont to do) I read about a surprising number of women who were emotionally effected by having their uterus removed, even the ones who got to keep their ovaries. They felt like “less of a woman,” as if their worth as a person was less than it had been pre-surgery. And I’m not talking about 20-somethings who had yet to breed. I’m talking about women who were already finished having kids. I was, and still am shocked. Besides the obvious analogies like, “Did you feel like less of a person when you had your gallbladder/appendix/etc removed?” there is this:
To me, those parts were a liability. Necessary at one point in my life, sure. But no longer. The uterus made me feel, if anything, less equal to my husband. He could hike, ride, travel etc with no concern about if he had packed enough tampons or pads or had somewhere convenient to go change them. Never mind never having to worry about staining a saddle (which I have) or anything else you might sit on. In my mind, losing my uterus and an ovary is as far away from making me less of a woman as possible. If anything, it makes me feel like I am more capable. Stronger. Less impeded. To my silly little self, it is akin to the Amazon women removing their right breast to make them stronger and more efficient hunters. So if removing some of my girlie bits (plus the gnarly scar) makes me feel like anything, it is that….a warrior.
What prompted the thoughts on this today? I still have one ovary.Therefore my body can still show all the normal signs of a period. I just don’t bleed. At weigh-in this morning, I discovered I gained a pound this week. I do feel a bit bloated so before I beat myself up too much I thought about the fact that maybe it is that time. A close friend at work and I had been on the exact same “monthly” schedule for over a year. I had to ask her if it was time, since I can’t keep track anymore.
And for that, I am a happy girl.


  1. I just wanted to say that THIS was the post that brought me to your blog. And I want to THANK YOU for writing it. When I first found out that I was going to have a hysterectomy I had mixed emotions. I was scared and felt a bit sad about it. And had a bit of the "incomplete woman" bull shit going through my head. After I read this, it pretty much erased those thoughts and I felt a lot more secure in getting it done.

    1. Your reply nearly made me cry! Without a doubt, keeping a blog is first and foremost a selfish endeavor. It's cathartic for me. But to actually have something I've written affect someone else, in any way, is so very rewarding.

      I'm so glad it helped even a wee bit in that roller coaster time hysterectomies can cause, and it's awesome seeing you kick ass over at your blog!!