Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hysterectomy Epidemic!

Yikes! In the past few months I have heard about six women in my community who've undergone hysterectomies. My first question to them was; "Was it a necessary surgery right now?" and "What were your symptoms?"
Interestingly, the most common reason for removal of the female reproductive organs was that they were bleeding heavily during and between periods. As a midwife my mind went to wanting to find the source of their heaviness. Was it fibroids, cysts, endometriosis or rough handling of the organs during a hospital cesarean or birth? The reason for my strong suspicion on the latter reason is because I worked in a hospital for over a year as a professional doula. I was hired by the hospital to be on call to every laboring woman who walked in their doors. This meant I met the woman when she was at her worst socially and together we walked the labrynth of labor together, coming out victorious in the end. It was exhilarating, yet challenging, but I loved it! In the midst of being with hundreds of women and their obstetricians, I observed the most awful handling of women's bodies. It was shocking! It occurred mostly in those who had the epidural and were unable to feel anything down there and so they were unaware of how the doctor was treating them. I was appalled and disgusted at one doctor who took some liquid to "clean" the birth area as he stuck both hands inside her and sloshed things around roughly. I also witnessed episiotomies that were extremely liberal in length and depth and tools that were aggressively inserted in to pull the babies out. There were a few times I had to turn my head or move to the top of the bed to get through the delivery.
From these awful and disrespectful situations I am now wondering if this isn't the reason for an early hysterectomy. I can only imagine what your lower body goes through if it is drugged and unknowing during a delivery...and then to repeat that a few times over, it makes sense why women aren't able to keep their precious female parts.
I haven't done any research on the subject but from my experience it doesn't seem like a long shot. Women who give birth at home seem to keep their organs much longer. I don't know of one of my clients through the years who has gone in for a hysterectomy. I guess its time for some probing.
A hysterectomy epidemic? I'll gather the facts and get back to you...

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