Before you read today’s blog post I think I better give you a warning. Maybe not a warning, but at least a head’s up. This blog post is a personal one. It’s about women and women’s health. It may contain some detailed information that if you’re a bit squeamish may make you feel uncomfortable. I have several men who read my blog and I hope you will take the time to read it. If you don’t feel up to it, I will forgive you.
Okay, on with the show.
A few weeks ago I had surgery. I had a hysterectomy. No need to beat around the bush. The surgery went very well. As a matter of fact my surgeon said it was perfect. I am not a fan of the word perfect, but let’s just say it went well. Other than needing a nap around 3:00 pm I am back into my normal routine.
Hysterectomy surgery is a controversial topic for some people. One in three women will have hysterectomy in their lifetime. It’s a staggering statistic.
Prior to having my surgery I didn’t’ tell many people. The reason I didn’t is because I didn’t want to have to explain my decision. Woman at a young age have to make decisions about their health. As much as I love being a women there are times I get tired of justifying my life choices to other women.
When a girl gets her first period she must make the choice of which brand of feminine product to use. You wouldn’t think making this choice would be a big deal, but it is. Team Pad and Team tampon begin forming at a young age. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially do the same job. It’s ridiculous. Why the hell to people care what other people are using to soak up menstrual fluid?
As a woman ages she must make more personal health choices. Birth control is one of them. In college my friends and I all made our birth control choices. (My mother knows I had sex in college so I can move on with the conversation here.) Several of my friends were on the Pill. I never was. I didn’t want to take hormones that could alter my body’s function. I didn’t know all the facts about the Pill back then I just knew it wasn’t the right choice for me.
Friends questioned my birth control choice. I made the guys wear condoms and I used a spermicide. As a matter of fact I have stuck with that same method of birth control for 30 years. Yes, my husband and I have used condoms and foam for the last 20 years of our marriage with the exception of when were creating our boys. My birth control choice wasn’t always ideal.. but it did the job.
Using condoms as a form of birth control while you are single seems to be a good choice for most people, but choosing to do so when you are married makes people feel uncomfortable. I can’t tell you the number of comments I have had to endure over the years about this topic. I haven’t told many people (until now), but the few I have couldn’t believe my husband used condoms for so many years. The reason was simple. I didn’t want to go on hormones and my husband didn’t want to get a vasectomy. It was our choice and we never had any problem with it.
Women make more decisions about health and lifestyle choices than men. We must decide when or if to have children. Will we use fertility drugs or adopt if we are unable to conceive children? Will we nurse or bottle feed the baby? Cloth or disposable diapers? Will we work or stay home with the newborn? You can see where this is going. The list goes on and on for women and the choices they must make about the life they want to have.
Women are more compassionate then men (at least in my experience), but they are also much more judgmental. I don’t think we mean to make other women uncomfortable when we share our options. I think most women feel they know better and hope if we share our information the other person will know better too.
The problem is no should have to justify why they make a personal choice. I guess that’s why I didn’t tell many people about my surgery. I had a difficult time making my choice. I’d been suffering with perimenopausal symptoms for over three years. I never had any issue with my period until perimenopause began. But three years ago everything changed.
I developed fibroid in my uterus and cysts on my ovaries. The fibroid caused me to have excessive bleeding each month during my period. It was awful. I can’t tell you how often I would have to leave a situation running to the bathroom for fear of bleeding all over myself. I wore overnight pads on my period days and still they couldn’t contain all the fluid.
Each month when my period arrived I was filled with dread. I wore red pants to save me if an accident occurred. In my brief case I carried a change of underwear and extra pads with me. My life was stressful and unpredictable.
After a bad episode one month I decided to talk to my doctor about options. She scheduled me for an ultra sound, MRI, had blood work, and a biopsy. I was then sent to a specialist. The recommendation was a full hysterectomy. This means uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes to be removed. I didn’t like the recommendation. It seemed too drastic. There was no cancer involved. I got another opinion and discussed my situation with trusted friends and family who had similar issues or who only had my best interest in mind.
I spent hours doing research. Searching every possible answer to each of my questions. In the end I made my choice. I could have tried several other options before having my hysterectomy. I decided not to. Removing my ovaries would mean I would to be on an estrogen patch for a while (another controversial woman’s choice). The one thing I had avoided all of my young life was using hormones and now I would have to use them or go into full menopause.
Making my decision to have my surgery was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Some women welcomed having their hysterectomy and others wish they could have one. But for me I feared I would lose some of my femininess. I worried what would happen if the surgery was unsuccessful. I was concerned about the effects of the hormones and the risks they would have on my future health. My uterus and ovaries had brought me great joy in my life. How would I function without them?
Women make many choices over a lifetime. Many of them are difficult and personal. All choices have positive and negative consequences. The key is to look at each choice and do what feels best for you. Because in the end you are the one who has to live with the choice. As for giving advice to other women making a difficult life choice keep in mind what you would want to hear if you were in their situation.
I’m doing well. Coping with my loss and working through hormone issues. No choice is perfect, but at least I can say I made it on my own.
By the way, an interesting side effect of my surgery is no need for birth control. If you see my husband smiling you’ll know why.