Unnecessary Hysterectomy

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I became a “sitting duck” for the hysterectomy industry after experiencing a day of unremitting abdominal pain. Having never experienced female problems before, this had me concerned. So off I went to my gynecologist, a man I’d respected for 20 years, the man who’d treated me for infertility and saved me from another c-section by doing VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section). So the stage was set.

An ultrasound showed a large, complex ovarian cyst. My gynecologist said that “everything must be removed” and scheduled surgery. Of course, I was in shock and didn’t even know what to ask. He referred me to an oncologist for consultation who said he couldn’t tell if it was cancer and then quickly disappeared giving me no chance to ask questions. I went back to my gynecologist with a list of questions asking why I needed other organs removed. Unbeknownst to me, I was lied to about my condition (as later discovered from my medical records).

Although my barely audible inner voice told me something wasn’t right, I dismissed it telling myself that I had a good, reputable doctor who wouldn’t needlessly remove organs. I also convinced myself that a surgery that’s so common can’t possibly be all that bad. And ovarian cancer is often deadly. I mistakenly listened to family and friends who urged me not to delay surgery.

Fast forward to the day of surgery: There were residents surrounding my bed in pre-op. I didn’t recall this ever being mentioned or on any of the “consent” forms. I didn’t even know it was (is) a teaching hospital because it’s not affiliated with any university.

The surgical recovery was easy for me. However, it became clear very quickly that I had become a different  person. I felt like my HEART and SOUL were removed in that operating room. Despite being prescribed estrogen, everything fell apart. I quickly spiraled into a suicidal depression, couldn’t sleep more than two or three hours at a time, with a lengthy list of symptoms of hormonal deficiency and endocrine havoc. I also developed rather severe diarrhea. By 4 months post-op, I’d aged about 15 years from massive hair, skin collagen, and muscle mass loss. Yet a call to my gynecologist/surgeon resulted in being told “we’ve never heard of those problems before” followed by the phone being hung up. He’d now abandoned me as his patient.

I could barely function and was holding onto my job by the skin of my teeth. I became a recluse going to great lengths to avoid running into people. And when I did, I could see the shock on their faces.  Thankfully, my husband took on the household and minimal child care duties (my children were older) but I missed out on years of my children’s lives. Once I finally found a doctor who would “dole out” more estrogen, I could at least do basic daily functions. But the taken-for-granted, joy-filled days from when I was intact seem to be gone forever. I don’t even have the strong feelings of love for my family any more. Seven years after that fateful day, I still mourn the many losses caused by the removal of the organs that were so essential to every aspect of my being, the ones that made me female in every sense of the word.

What I found in my medical records and through research was eye-opening. All my female organs were removed to help gynecology residents meet their surgical requirements. Sadly, Graduate Medical Education (GME) accreditation requirements emphasize hysterectomy to the exclusion of organ-sparing procedures. And the hospital’s GME website stated that hysterectomies are the “bread and butter” of gynecological training.

I wonder how much my gynecologist was paid to train these residents? My records from the oncologist show that he enabled my gynecologist. I also question what was submitted to my insurance company for them to authorize “hysterectomy” because there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with my uterus (or my other ovary). Based on all my research and the experiences of scores of other women, if one female organ is being removed, it’s acceptable to remove them all. Insurance authorization and hospital consent forms are designed to allow this. This doesn’t make sense. I wonder if prostatectomy consent forms allow removal of testicles?

The hormonal effects of ovary removal are far more understood and acknowledged. But the anatomical and skeletal effects, not so much. So my next article will talk about these changes.

 

Hormones MatterTM is conducting research about hysterectomy. If you have had hysterectomy, please take a few minutes to complete this important survey. Then share the survey link with all of your friends. These data could save the life of another women. The Hysterectomy Survey.

To learn more about our research, click Take a Health Survey and sign up for our newsletter for updates on the latest research and new surveys.

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28 Comments

  1. My butcher (gyn oncologist) is a special kind of evil. It’s all becoming very clear to me now. He had been priming me for castration by instilling the fear of my uterus in me. I now realize that his wife who was also complicit in this. She is my gyn and told me that I didn’t need to see her anymore and that I should see her husband because of my “risk of ovarian cancer”. She told me that I should have a hysterectomy because I will become incontinent of urine if I were to have another child. “You don’t want to be wearing depends at such a young age, do you???!” After testing BRCA negative and telling this great news to the butcher, he said, “Oh, that’s terrible. All this means is that we don’t know the reason you have breast cancer in your family. That’s all the more reason you need this surgery.” Say WHAT?! Fortunately I have instincts that tell me this advice is dead wrong. He then presses deeply on my belly button and says “Wow, you have an umbilical hernia. I could repair that at the same time of your hysterectomy.” Then he pressed on my abdomen deeply. I didn’t flinch but looked at him like WTF did you do that for and he said, “See, that pain is from your adenomysosis”. Wow, talk about invasion of the body snatchers. This sick human being wanted to destroy me for financial gain. Unbelievable!

    1. Thank God your instincts knew something was amiss! For one, breast cancer is much more common than ovarian cancer so having a family history of BC doesn’t automatically mean you’re predisposed to OC! And the threat of incontinence is ridiculous… hysterectomy will increase that risk as much or more than another pregnancy and delivery! But we know they depend on women trusting their doctors which we SHOULD be able to do but that is just not the case especially in Gynecology!

      It’s disgusting how they conspire with each other to scam women! My medical records are evidence that the oncologist I saw was in cahoots with my gynecologist of 20 years (who I thought I could trust). It’s unbelievable that they get away with this chicanery! No authorities will intervene! This article talks about this “cultivating” of patients / planting the idea that one day they’d need a hysterectomy – http://www.rense.com/health3/hyster.htm. It’s appalling beyond belief!!

      They even mislead everyone with their surgical statistics saying that hysterectomies and oophorectomies have declined significantly but they’re referring to INPATIENT procedures. At least half, if not more, of these surgeries are now done on an OUTPATIENT basis. A JAMA Surgery article says that outpatient hysterectomies and oophorectomies for commercially insured women increased from 14% in 2000 to 70% in 2014. What a racket!

      1. Ladka – I am so sorry you were also butchered for an ovarian cyst. It is shocking that doctors get away with this! What a horrific betrayal!

      2. Dr. Steven Klein of Long Island, recommended by a cousin, went in for a myomectomy in 1987 to help in having children, came out with an unnecessary hysterectomy. Woke up screaming in the recovery room, knew I had been butchered. Serious urinary and bowel consequences since, result of scar tissue. Serious emotional issues. Doctor said all resultant issues were ‘all in my head’.

        I have never trusted a doctor since. They are butchers and scum.

        1. notapplicable, I am sorry this was also done to you. As you can see, nothing has changed in all these years. We need to continue speaking out about this horrific harm of so many women. Thank you for sharing.

  2. You are absolutely right, WS. Once a patient consents to a procedure, the doctor will obtain consent that covers the whole gamut of possibilities. When my butcher (gyn) was obtaining my consent for hysterectomy only, he then slipped in the whole “oh we will need to do a biopsy of the uterus and if it looks suspicious, we will need to remove both ovaries but I don’t suspect we will do that”. Once you are under general anesthesia, the surgeon could claim that the ovary “looked suspicious and since you have completed your family, you do not need them and this protects you from ovarian cancer”. Well guess what, if the cancer does not have the ovaries to go to, the cancer will go to the peritoneum. The risks incurred from hysterectomy, ovarian failure, oophorectomy causing pelvic floor destruction, irreversible musculoskeletal changes, bowel adhesions, osteoporosis and coronary artery disease are more certain and likely to kill you before ovarian cancer will. It’s a sick shame that this is happening to 600,000 women annually.
    Thank you, WS, for sharing your story. Your bravery and testimony are saving countless lives.

  3. I’m curious, WS, do you have any medical training at all, or is this backed by established, cited research? And is the purpose of this website to scare women into denying what could be the exact surgery that they need? Or are you planning some kind of class action? I’m genuinely curious as to what your medical background and qualifications are, and I’m not a troll.

    You state that scaring people into thinking they have or are at risk of cancer is behind a lot of women having this surgery, but that the lifetime risks of ovarian cancer are 1-2% . But that risk is not the same size for everybody, you realize, right? Each case must be taken individually.

    Take me for example; diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Genetic testing revealed what we had suspected, that I have a BRCA1 gene mutation. This sent my ovarian cancer risk rocketing to over 70% in my lifetime. Over 70%. Would you get onto a plane if the pilot told you there was a 70% chance of crashing? Ovarian cancer runs in my family, and is often hard to detect until it is fairly advanced, as it was for two of my aunts . Faced with this evidence, a full TAH / BSO was recommended by my oncologist, my ob/gyn surgeon, and honestly was a no brainer for me, despite my relatively young age of 45. Yep, some aspects of menopause suck, for sure. Was I scared / concerned? You bet! Do I think my surgery was unnecessary – well I guess time will tell, right? For me, with 2 young children, and defective dna, I needed to do what I could to reduce my ridiculous cancer risks.

    1. Achy,
      I’m sorry you were dealt this “crappy hand” of BRCA1+ (the gene mutation with the highest OVCA risk) and were essentially left with no choice but to have your ovaries removed. I’m sorry you also had breast cancer.

      Although there are women at high risk for ovarian cancer, the large majority have a very low lifetime risk of 1.3%. For these women, ovary removal is medically proven to do more harm than good since the ovaries are endocrine glands and produce hormones our whole lives (well at least into the 8th decade). Can you please point me to the link(s) that say OVCA risk for BRCA1+ is 70%? According to the National Cancer Institute it is 39% by age 70 – https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet#r5. And another site said that it is as high as 44%. But of course 39%-44% is still a big risk that would justify prophylactic oophorectomy.

      All of us who’ve had our ovaries removed (or whose ovaries shut down after hysterectomy) are in a crappy situation of a compromised endocrine system / health. (And hysterectomy has its own set of adverse effects aside from the possible hormonal / endocrine issues.) But it’s absurd that the ovaries of women at average risk continue to be removed. Prostate cancer is much more common (12.9%) than ovarian cancer yet men’s prostates are not prophylactically removed. And I have not heard of men’s testicles being removed even when they have a gene that increases risk of testicular / testis cancer. As said on the “Ovaries for Life” / http://www.overy.org/ website, women should not even be offered this option if they do not have a proven genetic predisposition since it violates the Hippocratic Oath to “first, do no harm.” ACOG’s Choosing Wisely list – http://www.choosingwisely.org/societies/american-college-of-obstetricians-and-gynecologists/ – says that women at average risk for OVCA should not be screened with CA-125 tests or ultrasounds since OVCA is so rare yet they continue to remove the ovaries of low risk women! And hysterectomy is likewise overused with only about 10% being necessary. The other most overused surgery in the U.S. is c-section, another procedure of the Gynecology Specialty.

      You can read my other eight articles with supporting citations here – http://hormonesmatter.com/author/ws. My only intent is to educate women about the life long non-reproductive functions of the uterus and ovaries since gynecologists are not forthcoming with this information. Far too many women have these surgeries unnecessarily after being misinformed and then regret it as shown by the many comments on my articles. Insurance companies should not be authorizing most of these surgeries.

      I’m curious if your oncologist and ob/gyn surgeon gave you the option to keep your uterus or why they said it had to be removed. It seems that more and more are opting to keep it despite having their ovaries and tubes removed. Maybe because Angelina Jolie kept hers causing women to question their doctors who say it should be removed?

      Again, I’m sorry you are in this crappy position and wish the best for you in the years ahead!

    2. Just to back WS here, I advise you to back off completely. I too was an unsuspecting victim of ovary castration and hysterectomy. The effects are devastating and life long. We know from direct expereience and medical research. Even with cancer, I wouldn’t have this done. You will die instead from other high risk factors. I would rather take the cancer.

  4. I am reading this in absolute disbelief. I feel heartbroken and sick for any woman that has been falsely led by their doctor and has had their womanhood remove. Those organs make us a woman, they are so much more than just organs, they effect every fiber of our being. I’m so sorry, I really can’t even express myself in words. Thank you to all who shared their knowledge and wisdom for the rest of us. I am 52 and am just starting to have little issues with my female parts. My mindset is already fixed on keeping all of me, I just have to figure out how. The words hysterectomy have already been spoken and that’s a NO
    I learned a long time ago that most medical issues are money driven, you must do your homework and always get 2nd and 3rd opinions, and sometimes you still choose to go it alone.
    I wonder what some of these doctors would do if at age 40-50 their dicks started to give them problems and we just removed them and said oh well sorry your getting older now
    this is what happens, this is standard procedure to remove it along with there balls because they won’t be needing them(maybe we could leave one👌) and tell them they’ll
    be fine, there’s so much to life outside of their dicks….😳😳 I think not, they would tell us we are crazy…. So let’s see here, it’s ok for a woman to be expected to lose her womanhood at some point midlife (young) but a man stays sexually active his whole life if he chooses……What??? How’s that work??
    That makes me angry and believe me that’s the mindset…Sad but true…This is messed up and wrong! Fight back, realize doctors are not gods, do your homework ladies please… Our latter end of life should be better than are beginning❤️❤️

    1. Lisa, I’m so glad you declined a hysterectomy. It’s been 10 years since mine and I regret it every day. I also cannot believe I was so gullible. If only I had listened to my barely audible inner voice that told me something didn’t seem right. 🙁 I only wish more women would heed my warning and tell their gyns “NO WAY!” It also seems that they are doing these surgeries on younger women.

  5. I need to stop reading stories like this. So sorry for what you went through. It’s so wrong that women reproductive organs are considered disposable while men’s are treated like gold.

    My problem is all the horror stories about having no ovaries and all the problems that occur. I have cancer and have to have all removed . I’m 47. I have no other option and am not a candidate for HRT. Its being done tomorrow.

    All the horror stories and articles have only made the whole idea worse for me. I feel like my life….me….is ending. I feel like I’m getting rid of one problem and inheriting many more.

    1. Jill,
      I’m sorry for your cancer diagnosis and need for a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. I hope your surgery went well and you have a speedy recovery.

    2. Hey Jill, I hope you are home again from your surgery and on the road to recovery. I had a full hysterectomy in March of this year, after being treated for breast cancer last year and finding out I have a BRCA1 mutation. Like you, I am not a candidate for HRT. But, I’m still here! IF you need someone to talk to with your cancer journey, that has been there, feel free to message me. take care.

  6. I am 57 years old. 1 year ago I had an ablation because of extremely heavy periods. This was done to try to get me through till menopause. I thought I had made the right decision as it worked beautifully for the year. This week I experienced sudden bleeding again. I am assuming that this is a period. A hysterectomy is the last option I would consider, but is it inevitable at this point? Is it possible to “ride this out” until menopause? I would hope I don’t have much longer to wait, but the women in my family go into menopause later than many women.

    1. Cheryl, It is not all that unusual for periods to stop only temporarily after ablations. So yes, this bleeding may just be another period. But if you are concerned you can have it checked out. Provided all is “normal” there would be no need for a hysterectomy. I would think you should be close to menopause so riding it out shouldn’t take too long!

  7. I am truly horrified to read these stories, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you. They all say the same thing (especially if you’re over 40), that “you don’t need your reproductive organs anymore if you’re done having children.” This is an absolute lie. My story is more positive, hopefully to give others the courage to call off the surgery if things don’t add up. It IS difficult; the doctors are very intimidating and we find it hard to question what should be their expert opinion that’s in the patient’s best interests (not their wallet’s). When I was 41, I had a couple of irregular periods but otherwise I had never had any gynecological problems–normal periods, three normal pregnancies and deliveries. So, I went to an OB/GYN who was VERY well known and popular in my city. Since it was almost time for my annual exam and PAP Smear, he examined me and said my uterus was the size of someone at 3 mos. pregnancy. I said, “Really?” My youngest child was 17; I thought that was odd. Anyway, he wanted to do a sonogram of my uterus. I did that and also started reading up on what this could be. I kept seeing the word “fibroids” everywhere, but I didn’t really have any other of the symptoms. Somehow I didn’t think that was it, but couldn’t really find anything else. A couple of days later, I was back in his office to discuss the results. As soon as he walked in, the first words out of his mouth were, “You need a hysterectomy.” I was taken aback, but thought to myself, okay–maybe. I said, “Is it fibroids?” And he said, “Yes! Multiple fibroids. And a cyst on your ovary.” I still couldn’t really believe it, but went on with the visit. He asked for permission to “go ahead and take out my ovaries if during surgery he sees that they’re bad.” What? I said, “okay—I guess.” But I wasn’t really buying all of this. He told me to plan on “a nice six-week vacation,” and he proceeded to set up the surgery for the following Wednesday, just five days from then. I left being very skeptical and headed straight to Barnes & Noble to find out everything I could. Needless to say, I found a LOT! I read two books by the end of the weekend and on Sunday, I had decided that I was certainly NOT a candidate for a hysterectomy! Everything I had read went against what he was telling me and what’s more, I found out that doctors recommend this surgery very often when it’s absolutely not necessary. Surgery should be the LAST option, not the first! So I called his office the next day and told the nurse that I was not going to have the surgery and the doctor called back almost immediately asking why. I asked him some questions (based on my reading) that he should know: What kind of cyst was on my ovary? I had read that most women have functional cysts on their ovaries during every menstrual cycle, then they dissipate. The doctor can tell what kind of cyst it is on the sonogram. What options are there besides surgery? He was agitated and said he didn’t know what kind of cyst it was until he got in there (lie) and “there are no other options”! (another lie). He said that if I wanted a second opinion, then go get one. So I did. I went to Texas Tech Univ. Medical School and had a resident OB/GYN examine me and do a saline sonogram of my uterus, which would give an even better picture. Imagine my surprise when the results were NO FIBROIDS whatsoever! And, it was indeed a functional cyst. The former doctor outright lied about the whole thing. I wrote him a letter and told him my results that I had no fibroids and to let him know that I know he lied. I asked for my medical records, and on them on the date of my exam, he had written his recommendation for surgery and “all options discussed with patient.” Another horrible lie. Unfortunately, just about every person I know who goes to him has had a hysterectomy. And none of them had cancer or anything very serious. It’s chilling, too, to hear them tell the story because the doctor uses the same phrases that he used on me. That was 15 years ago; today I’m 56 and have gone through menopause naturally, and I never had any other issues. It was simply irregular periods in the beginning perimenopause stage. My doctor at Texas Tech told me this. The former doctor never once mentioned that it could be perimenopause. I’m hoping more women will question and stand up against a diagnosis that just doesn’t seem right or make sense, just because a doctor is telling them it’s so. Always get a second or even third opinion!

    1. Donna, I apologize for the delay in responding. I didn’t get notifications for a couple months. I am SO glad you listened to your inner voice and avoided this awful surgery! It sickens me every time I hear how these gynecologists scam women! Thank you for sharing your story and please continue to speak out on this.

    1. Carol – If you do not have cancer, hysterectomy should not be necessary. Only 2% are done for cancer. It is not a good idea to undergo a procedure if you are not comfortable with doing so. What is your diagnosis / condition for which hysterectomy was recommended?

  8. Antoinette – I am sorry that you too were a victim of the hysterectomy industry. Unfortunately, tubals can make periods heavier. And ablations, especially in women under age 41, can cause chronic pain, which too often leads to hysterectomy (so they get you coming and going!). I wrote about that subject here on Hormones Matter. You can click on my author name WS and it will list the articles I have written.

    I am sorry your mother also had a hysterectomy. And yes, these doctors act like they are doing women a favor by letting them keep an ovary (or part of an ovary). What a racket!

    Thank you for sharing your stories.

  9. Yes my God it’s just soooo very sad that all Dr.s can’t be trusted…. I have always had heavy menstruals since i was age 11.Long story shorten i always felt something could have been done about this instead of birth control pills inwhich didnt really help! When i was in my mid 30’s i underwent a myomectomy to remove fibroid tumors of the uterus and was told continue with the low daily dose of birthcontrol pills.If i only knew that estrogen help grew the fibroids back the size of grapefruits and at 40 yrs.old having a hysterectomy. But i did keep my ovaries ….Looking back after seeing 2 doctors they knew my tubes had been tied @ age22 yrs. They could of maybe cauterized the lining of my uterus first to see if the bleeding would lessen.I would of kept my cervix too.So about one wk.later suffered a seizure…. I never ever had them b4…

  10. Sadly, I relate to this story all too well – every aspect of it. I refused to sign a consent for a ‘complete’ hysterectomy and was promptly knocked out so one could be performed regardless of what I needed or wanted or even agreed to! So, I knew immediately upon waking up in recovery what had been done to me, at least to some extent… Hence the title of one of my posts on Hormones Matter ‘Wide Awake – A Hysterectomy Story’.

    However, I didn’t begin to understand how drastically my life would change from that moment on. Like the woman in the story above, my body changed in drastic ways even though I was prescribed estrogen. There is no hormone (synthetic or bioidentical) that can replace a woman’s own natural hormones. The human body is not meant to withstand such a devastating shock as the sudden removal of life-sustaining, hormone-producing organs.

    I too became suicidal after my surgery. I was absolutely exhausted on every level from trying to endure the sudden loss of my female organs and hormones, so I contacted my gynecologist and told him. I begged him to help me. I tried desperately to make him understand that I was experiencing trauma on a level never known to me before. I was told to find another doctor since I had so many problems. My college-age son was then contacted by my doctor’s nurse, advising him that his mother was suicidal. Can you imagine this? Any of it? Seriously?

    My son attended a hysterectomy conference in New York with me after this and received the education of his life – his words not mine. He was so utterly distraught over all the unnecessary hysterectomy stories he heard that day that he went home and promptly wrote an article about it. He was only 23 at this time and yet, he realized that hysterectomy is a very destructive, life-altering surgery. He also realized that the mother he’d known since birth had been changed forever.

    1. Wow!! Thank you for sharing. My Dr. Just requested me to have a hysterectomy today. He says my uterus is fine however I have severe dysplasia and cancer cells which is why I’m halfway contemplating the procedure. But just reading so many of the women’s lives that had been destroyed, I’m already reconsidering. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

      1. Momof4 – I replied to your post on another article. With the gross overuse of hysterectomy (only about 2% are done for cancer), it would be a good idea to get a copy of your medical records (including any pathology reports from your cervical biopsies) and then do as much research as you can before making a decision on how to proceed. Let us know what you find out.

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