A woman sits inside of a uterus that looks like a jail cell, and looks towards a beam of light.

We Are More Than Just Our Uterus

Getting diagnosed with endometriosis is a long and frustrating process. Doctors either don’t believe us or don’t take our pain seriously. So when we finally do get a diagnosis, we feel relief. Now we can finally get the treatment we deserve and need.

Recurrence after treatment

I felt the same way, and luckily for me, I did get the treatment I needed quite quickly. However, as we all know, endometriosis symptoms will often recur after treatment (especially if the treatment is laparoscopic ablation). And so, a little over three years ago I went to an endometriosis specialist to discuss more serious – and hopefully longer-lasting – treatment. I wanted a hysterectomy.

Now, at the time, I was 39 years old and I had (still have) 2 kids. I’m happily married and my husband and I considered our family complete. Not that any of this matters – if I was single with no kids and wanted a hysterectomy that should still be valid. However, the reality is all too different.

Hysterectomy and my husband?!

When I asked my doctor for a hysterectomy, the first thing he asked was whether or not my husband and I wanted more children. With the emphasis on what my husband wanted. I have heard from single, childless friends of mine who have sought the same treatment that they have been refused a hysterectomy on the basis that their mythical future husband (who they would meet one day) may have children and they should leave that option on the table.

Why is this? Our bodies are ours alone. My husband does not get to decide whether I can opt for serious, but necessary treatment for a chronic illness. And someone’s mythical future husband certainly does not get a say.

We are not public property

Our bodies are not public property. We do not exist in order to bear children. The idea that a woman can’t have a hysterectomy, that she needs to keep living in – at times unbearable – pain, just because some man in the future may want to have children with her is absurd. Women should be allowed to make that decision on their own. If we opt for invasive surgery the only consideration should be whether or not the surgery will treat our symptoms, and whether or not we are healthy enough to undergo said surgery.

Society must do better

The idea that women should keep their uterus at all costs is archaic and cruel. We are more than just our uterus. Men – whether they are our doctors, our husbands, our boyfriends, or men we’ve never met – should not be able to tell us we have to bear children. Many women are suffering because men have decided that they should keep their uterus available for possible future impregnation.

I have written before about how misogyny delays the diagnosis of endometriosis, but it does more than that. Misogyny also denies us necessary treatment, and makes us suffer needlessly. We need to change the idea that women can’t have a say over their own reproductive organs. And doctors should treat women as individuals, with their own sovereign rights.

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