I’m Having a Hysterectomy and Stigma Won’t Stop Me From Talking About It

Why am I writing about my uterus?

by Hey Paul Studios

Stigma around menstrual health and reproductive health are rampant, even in 2017. Stigma kills us and keeps us locked in cycles of pain. Stigma increases our susceptibility to cancer and other life threatening conditions. Stigma erodes our quality of life and the quality of our sex lives.

In early October, I began to experience what’s known as ‘prolonged menstrual discharge’ or ‘menorrhagia’ – basically, my period lasted four weeks (six weeks in all). I’m 47 so some will brush off such occurences as part of growing older, which isn’t completely untrue, but it isn’t a typical experience to be endured either. In fact, this is a lot like what many of us go through in our teens , especially if we aren’t seeing a gynecologist. We experience painful periods and are told we have to just deal with it. Have some Midol and a heating pad, kid.

So it happens on both ends of our menstruating lives – expecting our bodies to betray us and just going along for the ride, however painful, because that’s the lot of any person with a uterus.

Except it is not. Painful menstruation is not what nature intended nor what God wants us to experience.  We deserve access to all the wonderful healthcare resources available. I learned that in my younger days when I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 1994.

So this past October, I knew something was amiss. I wasn’t in menopause yet so that was not a viable explanation, even in the broad generalizations we use to attribute everything to our bodies changing.

Turns out, my uterus is betraying me and I don’t need to keep it any longer. It is host to several fibroids and possibly endometrial growth, scar tissue, and another condition called adenmyosis which can only be diagnosed post-hysterectomy.

There are options and thanks to having solid health insurance, I could consider them all. I decided on the partial hysterectomy which will remove my uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix. I will keep my ovaries so menopause will happen in due time. At least that’s the plan based on the information that we have.

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For some reason, people talk about these matters in the context of being pregnant and using measurements related to fruit because we cannot grasp the metric system properly. So I’m walking around with a uterus that is basically 12 weeks pregnant with 2 plums and an orange. The 12 weeks describes how enlarged my uterus has become and the fruit represents the approximate size of the 3 visible fibroids.

As someone who has never been pregnant, that metric isn’t particularly useful. But the fruit analogy is actually practical. I know that my uterus is not supposed to be that shape or fruitful at all.

So that’s where I stand right now. I’m waiting for my insurance to authorize this particular surgeon (Dr. Hammons) to perform this surgery. It will outpatient unless something goes wrong. They’ve already called in my pain medication and given the surgical scrubs I’ll use so this will be happening sooner rather than later.

I joined a great website called HysterSister.com which is filled with advice, suggestions, comforting words, and more. I caution you though that a lot of the members are woefully uninformed on gender identity and their comments about grappling with their own gender identity reflect this.

I’ve already got several blog posts in mind around all of this topicalness, but I’ll hold off right now.

Right now, I’m trying to be grateful we are this far along in the process and that my biggest problems are whether surgery will disrupt OUTrageous Bingo or Christmas. Along with the secret fear they’ll find cancer, hoping for no problems with the procedure, and remembering the pain of the carbon dioxide floating up into my shoulder when I had a laproscopy in 1994. And all the restrictions.

But for now I’m going to just focus on the gratitude. I’m a little freaked-out to be sure, but once its gone – its gone. No more fears.

If you are experiencing unusual menstrual discharge or have pain or discomfort, please don’t make assumptions. Please call your doctor and get a referral to a gynecologist. Pelvic exams are awful, but so is sentencing yourself to 4 or 10 or 20 years of pain that could potentially be treated. If you do not have insurance or do not have access to a good gynecologist, consider Planned Parenthood to at least get an assessment.

Don’t let stigma win, not in society, not in politics, not in your family, and not in your heart.

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