So, you've had a hysterectomy but you have the sinking suspicion that you weren't adequately prepared for what comes after. I'm here to tell you that you are not alone. Hysterectomies occur for extremely varied reasons and even the procedure itself differs from woman to woman, but one thing I have found almost universal among the women I've met is the inconsistency in information. This is your body and you deserve full disclosure and a safe, understanding environment to discuss your questions and concerns. If I can impart any wisdom at all, it would be this, advocate for yourself and never stop.
I've had issues with my reproductive system since puberty. Horrible cramps, excessive bleeding, nausea, bloating, and the list went on and on. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early twenties and poly cystic ovarian syndrome in my late twenties. I tried every prescription, herbal, and over the counter remedy you can think of and nothing helped. At 36, I developed a cyst the size of a goose egg on my right ovary and it wasn't going away. Due to massive internal scaring from multiple mostly unrelated surgeries (I was born with a birth defect of my right kidney), the doctors were concerned about performing an operation. I get it, honestly I do, but what transpired was nothing short of exasperating.
My gynecologist, now not so affectionately known as Dr. Douche Canoe, proceeded to tell me exactly how this was going to happen. I would have a total hysterectomy and I would take hormones and that would be that. Now, I had advocated for a hysterectomy for years, but I was fought every step of the way because of my age. But, I wasn't all on board for hormones. I've read conflicting research on the subject and wanted to try my luck without them first. Do you know what he said? He proceed to talk down to me like I was a petulant child and pretty much told me that my vagina would shrivel up and stop working if I didn't take them. Seriously? DO NOT take everything your doctor says at face value. If something feels wrong to you, get a second opinion.
In the end, Dr. Douche Canoe was not qualified to perform the operation due to my extensive scarring and I had to be sent to a specialist. Guess what? She DID NOT recommend hormones unless my quality of life was severely impacted because hormones can cause more harm than good in patients with endometriosis! Did you notice I said she. My family doctor is also female and she agreed that hormones were not necessarily a one size fits all prescription.
Turns out, for me, hormones were not necessary. You absolutely have to do what feels right for you. Ask the questions, weigh the answers, and speak up when something doesn't feel right. If Dr. Douche Canoe treats you like an idiot, there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding a different doctor.
In the hundreds of Google searches and subsequent rabbit holes I fell into, I found so many women who have the same story. Women who have been pushed aside, ignored, misdiagnosed, and told it was all in their head. Women who have cried, been frustrated, and fought for answers they may or may not have found. This sounds disheartening, but in the age of social media, smart phones, and the internet, women have the unprecedented opportunity to share their stories. To find support in each other. To make our voices heard.
If you have had a hysterectomy, are going to have a hysterectomy, or are facing the prospect of having a hysterectomy, I strongly suggest checking out the HysterSisters website. It's a woman to woman support group with a wealth of articles and resources for helping you make the most informed decisions, understanding the changes in your body, and connecting with other other women who understand what you are going through. Always remember, it is your right to advocate for yourself. Never let anyone take your voice.
I'm a blogger and educator breaking through stigmas and helping women find their voice.