The Ethics of Female Castration: Hysterectomy Plus Ovariectomy

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Over half a million hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States. Approximately 60% – 74% of those hysterectomies include removal of the ovaries or ‘castration’. Castration (also referred to as gelding, neutering, fixing, orchiectomy and oophorectomy) is any action, surgical, chemical, or otherwise, by which a male loses the functions of the testicles or a female loses the functions of the ovaries.So there you have it – ugly as it may be. The correct medical term for removal of women’s ovaries is ‘castration’.

Most women do not know that when they agree to removal of their ovaries that they are agreeing to castration. They don’t know because the term castration is never used. They are told they will be undergoing some far-and-away sounding thing called ‘oophorectomy’. Women falsely believe they don’t need their ovaries because their doctors tell them they don’t. Women are purposely led to believe that their ovaries stop producing hormones once they’ve entered menopause anyway. They’re also assured that hormone replacement therapy can replace their own natural hormones. The truth is that there is no artificial hormone of any kind that can replace a woman’s own natural hormones. A woman’s ovaries continue to produce hormones all of her life. There is never a time when a woman doesn’t need her ovaries or the life-sustaining hormones they produce. No woman can give informed consent to ovary removal when she doesn’t understand that she is agreeing to castration. Far too many women are misinformed, uninformed or not informed.

And, it’s not just that women aren’t informed that oophorectomy is castration or that women agree to ovary removal in the first place. I hear from women all the time who tell me that they did not consent to removal of their ovaries, only to wake up from surgery with them missing. It seems doctors routinely take it upon themselves to remove healthy ovaries when they perform hysterectomies for benign diseases. They say it prevents the possibility of ovarian cancer. It should be noted however that the risk of ovarian cancer in women who have no family history of the disease is less than 1%. Meanwhile, removing the ovaries greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (the #1 killer of American women) and accelerates osteoporosis. Removal of ovaries is linked to a variety of diseases and cancers, not to mention mental impairment and sexual dysfunction.

My healthy ovaries were removed without my consent during a routine hysterectomy in 2007 which I’ve previously discussed via my post “Wide Awake: A Hysterectomy Story.” My life has been altered in ways I never knew or understood was even possible. I suppose it’s true that we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. Our ovaries are such a vital part of who we are as women. Yet, it’s not always possible to know this until we are forced to live without them. Ovary removal is not reversible. The devastating consequences last forever. It’s unnecessary trauma at best and forced castration at worst.

Forced castration is considered to be immoral and barbaric according to every country in the world other than Germany and the Czech Republic. More specifically, it’s considered to be immoral and barbaric to surgically castrate convicted sex offenders. Nearly one hundred men have been surgically castrated in the Czech Republic over the past decade. All 94 men had one thing in common: they were sex offenders being punished for heinous crimes. This practice garnered some unwanted attention when the Council of Europe, a leading human rights organization, published a report calling the practice “degrading, invasive, irreversible and mutilating.” Interestingly, the Council of Europe also stated that “even a minor interference with the physical integrity of an individual must be regarded as an interference with the right to respect for private life.”

Indeed, the South Carolina Supreme Court held in State v Brown (1985) that surgical castration is a form of mutilation and therefore considered to be cruel and unusual punishment and illegal under the 8th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. David Fathi, Director of Human Rights Watch’s U.S. program in Washington D.C., contends that surgical castration is “an irreversible punishment and is a fundamental violation of human rights.” Further, he says “Any kind of mutilation is barbaric.” American Bioethicist Arthur Caplan declares “While prisoners are excluded from moral life losing the right to vote, Americans have not reduced them to non-human status.”

If castration of less than a hundred sex offenders is an alarming violation of human rights, what conclusion should we draw from the fact that nearly half a million women are castrated every year in the United States alone. Is it somehow acceptable to reduce women to a non-human status? If it’s considered morally wrong to surgically castrate rapists and child molesters, then why is there no outcry about the castration of millions of innocent women? We simply must begin asking these profoundly important questions.

Quite literally, thousands of women are surgically castrated every single day in hospitals across this country. That works out to be approximately 9 women every 10 minutes. Keep in mind that these women have committed no crime. Innocent and unsuspecting women agree to hysterectomy and wake up castrated. Where exactly is the outrage? What about cruel and unusual punishment being illegal? Does it somehow not apply to women? What about a woman’s right not to be mutilated? Let’s be honest here. If this were happening to men, there would be mutiny in the streets.

It is past time for us to begin talking about the issue of female castration. The ovaries are ‘essential’ parts of a woman’s body. They are part of the fabric of life and so they are integral to the reproductive powers of the body itself. Female castration is simply not ethical in most instances.

I support Hormones MatterTM and their research on hysterectomy. If you have had a hysterectomy, take The Hysterectomy Survey. Your data could save the life of another woman.

My Websites and Social Media

Website: Hysterectomy Consequences

Blog: Hysterectomylies

Twitter: @jiggaz31

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hysterectomyconsequences

A petition to stop unnecessary hysterectomy can be found on the Hormones MatterTM Sign a Petition page: Help Stop Unnecessary Hysterectomy and Castration

Post Script: This article was previously published with the incorrect title: The Ethics of Total Hysterectomy – Female Castration. It is the removal of the ovaries, often with hysterectomy that we contend should be considered female castration. Total hysterectomy does not include the removal of the ovaries. We apologize for the confusion.

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Robin has a B.S. in English and has worked as both a teacher and a writer. Her passion since undergoing an unconsented hysterectomy in 2007 is researching and educating women about the adverse consequences of hysterectomy and ovary removal and also the alternatives. Robin spends most of her time now advocating, writing and blogging about hysterectomy and women's healthcare. Follow her on Twitter @jiggaz31 and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hysterectomyconsequences

13 Comments

  1. The number of ftm hysterectomies and mtf castrations are way too many. Many women are subject to female castration and nobody knows exactly why. I am disappointed that were regressing and not progressing. Sometimes these procedures are done to make surgeons rich. Its a very lucrative business. Lets start by making some tough laws regarding these issues. Gynaecology is turning out to be the most uncivilized and barbaric science in the modern world. Its a sickening fact. Angelina jolie had her breasts;ovaries and uterus removed in the pretext of being at a high risk of these types cancers.

  2. 1) Martha Stewart had an hysterectomy while still very young (she used to have terrible headaches) + she only sleeps 3 hours per night. She does use organic beauty products and she does take vitamins and exercise. She does look very good.
    Her skin is smooth and fresh and she is in her seventies. What gives??

    2) My Husband gets very bad cramps. There is a little tube behind the testes that gets infected. I knew about the controversy about hysterectomy for women. We do hear about Eunuchs. During the Algerian war, the rebels used to castrate the French soldiers just like in America, the Indians used to scalp the invaders. Just like the ovaries produce estrogen, the testes also produce testosterone. Are inners of the testes ever being emptied/removed to control spasms and replaced with balloons just as they do with women breasts?

    • So your husband had a sub-capsular orchiectomy with silicone implants correct. Did it change him, did he have hormone replacment.

  3. Hi Milt, you asked for help regarding the decision your girlfriend has made about undergoing hysterectomy with ovary removal. I don’t blame you for being both concerned and even alarmed. You should be. How can I help? Feel free to e-mail me at robinkarr31@yahoo.com and let me know what I can do.

    Hysterectomy is seldom performed for cancer. That is why it’s called an “elective” surgery. I’d be very skeptical of a cancer worry if the doctor is using the term “pre-cancer”. A second opinion is a really good idea.

    The medical definition of female castration is removal of the female gonads or ovaries. Removing the uterus negatively impacts a woman’s sexual response, but removal of the ovaries pretty much kills everything – how a woman responds sexually and her physical and mental health.

    Female castration is barbaric, and yet, over half a million women undergo female castration each year in the United States. You asked how is this happening… I’d suggest reading the eye-opening book “Genocide: Hysterectomy, Capitalist Patriarchy and the Medical Abuse of Women” to find that answer. I’d also suggest reading “Hysterectomy: The Ultimate Rape” and “The Hysterectomy Hoax”. You can probably read a chapter and/or introduction to these books on Amazon.com

    Your girlfriend is one lucky woman to have a boyfriend who is looking out for her in the way you are here. I hope you’re able to convince her to, at the very least, postpone surgery. Hysterectomy is only an emergent situation for a woman that has “known” cancer or who is bleeding profusely. Doesn’t sound like your girlfriend’s situation meets the criteria for an emergent hysterectomy. Wishing you and your girlfriend the best here…

    • Hi, Robin I am curios to know if you or any woman on this blog has taken any natural approaches to healing from the detrimental side effects of hysterectomies? I, too, just had one almost three months ago. I had constipation issues, but now I have it even more, but I am seeing a colonist. Also, I am changing my choice of foods like eating more raw fruits and vegetables. Also, I am consuming turmeric which is helpful with inflammation, pain and cancer. I am also seeing a acupuncturist for my chronic and daily back and sciatic pain. Also, for my hands going numb every day know. I would like to know if any of the women have any other natural information that they can share.

      • So your husband had a sub-capsular orchiectomy with silicone implants correct. Did it change him, did he have hormone replacment.

    • Thank you Robin for sharing the message. You are so right on all of these issues. I had to fight long and hard with my wife to STOP her from being castrated, she just assumed that after 60 you don’t need them. That is so long, irrespective of age your ovaries still contribute. Dr are so risk-averse, and often driven by convenience or money to just cut them out at the first sight of problems. Imagine if they suggested that for men, no you don’t have cancer, but we should just take your testicles out in case. That would never fly. I feel for you and admire your work.

  4. This is crazy. Why are we letting this happen? My girlfriend is having a hysterectomy including ovary removal next week and I can’t talk her out of it. Her doctor scared her to death with the C word, even though all they have found is what they call precancerous cells in a sample from the uterous. I’ve been trying to talk her into getting a second opinion from a doctor that is a Saver instead of a Yanker. She has just always been so sexual that she just can’t believe she won’t still have sex drive. She won’t listen to me. I wish someone would talk to her and quick. HELP!!!

  5. Oh, pul-ese. Hysterectomies being the #1 most unnecessary surgery has been open, common knowledge since the 1970’s!

    This is the INTERNET era. Google reigns supreme.

    Women seem to LIKE hysterectomies. I don’t know why, but blaming it on the doctors, 60% of whom are WOMEN these days, is just simply false.

    Greed trumps morality? Or greed trumps common sense? Cause I’m not buying your story here.

    • Look at the celebrities with hideous plastic surgery who still appear in public as if nothing is wrong. Women lie to themselves and others to protect their self-image. Just like the overbotoxed, overfilled freaks of plastic surgery, all one need do is look at the women who’ve had hysterectomies. It’s easy to pick them out: aged, dry, wrinkled skin; frizzed/dry hair; deformed/dumpy figures; a dead vacancy in the eyes… Looks don’t lie.

      These doctors – male and female – should be ridiculed and ostracized.

      🙁

      • You are right Angela, the Doctors don’t inform women that having your ovaries removed is not a trivial operation, even after 60. My wife came home from the Dr and said, I have to have my oophorectomy like it was a trivial operation due to a small cyst on one Overy.
        She is a nurse and said they don’t produce hormones anymore anyway, and it took me weeks of showing her research articles to prove they do, even 20% is still not 100% like castration. The Dr just takes the easy way out, get in and get them out, they get their fees regardless. They sign up to do no harm but they do to the tune of 100’s of thousands women’s sex lives a year, buy justifying it as reducing the risk of ovarian cancer, well the risk is tiny to start with, what 1%. Like is often stated on vet sites the benefits of dog castration is so they don’t get testicular cancer, go figure, I don’t see doctors routinely castrating men for the same reason. I did convince my wife after many arguments to not have both taken out, I did have to call out my point of view, I don’t want my wife castrated, I don’t want you to be an unnecessary Eunuch or Asexualised just because it’s convenient for a Dr to just totally castrate you whilst she’s at it. Even the anesthetist said why are you keeping one, well perhaps she should have asked him if he had a benign lump on one testicle would he just consent to have the other out. I feel for all the ladies on this site that have had this done to them, it’s barbaric and the medical community has a lot to answer, the good research is so few and far between. The effects on the woman are plain and obvious, they are the same as castration of men, or animals, it changes them significantly, that’s why they do it.

  6. Thanks for this excellent article, Robin!

    Informed consent? There seems to be no such thing as informed consent as it relates to hysterectomy OR oophorectomy. Not only is there lack of informed consent, women are frequently deceived or out-and-out lied to about their diagnosis and/or treatment options. Hysterectomy (with or without ovary removal) causes so much permanent damage, it’s mind-boggling that this surgery is still so sickeningly common. And now they’re trying to justify removing tubes (salpingectomy) even when the ovaries are retained – http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ACOG/39003. You can register and comment on the articles on Medpagetoday.

    Another important fact is that the ovaries fail after hysterectomy about 40% of the time Ovarian failure phenomena after hysterectomy, something gynecologists typically fail to mention to their patients.

    A surgeon in the middle of a hysterectomy lawsuit said in his deposition that it’s his place to decide if a woman gets to keep her organs; it’s not the woman’s decision!

    Another thing to ponder – Why are Catholic hospitals such big players in the hysterectomy industry? Aren’t Catholics against all forms of birth control? So why are they subjecting so many women to permanent birth control? Not only are these surgeries in direct conflict to the Church’s procreation doctrine, they’re against their three ethical principles – respect for persons, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. I think the answer is plain and simple – greed trumps morality!

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