09July

What Defines a Woman: Will I Be a Woman After a Hysterectomy?

There are many times in one’s lifetime when each and every one of us asks ourselves this question: what defines a woman? Everyone’s definition varies, causing confusion.  Many of us are taught that being female requires that we must follow certain rules and play particular roles. Our toys, what we wear – everything we are shown, given and told teaches us these from a young age.  If we change or deviate from what is supposed to be our destiny or fate, somehow we feel as though we may lose our role of being a woman.

How is that possible?

Each and every one of us is a unique individual.

Each and every one of us is a woman.

There are no words to describe who and what we are. Furthermore, there are also no words to define how a woman is supposed to feel, because each of us is different.  The role of giving birth and having a family is not what makes us a woman, yet many women feel this myth is true.

Just because we are able to bear children does not mean that all of us will be great moms, or for that matter that we will even have children. If our choice is not to have children, it does not mean that we would not be mom material.

Now let me throw another wrench to this scenario….

What if you lose the choice to become a mother because you have to have a hysterectomy (and lose your uterus)?

For the past 30 years as a medical doctor, many women of all ages have been coming into my office and experiencing this pivotal crossroad. Though each one has had a different story as to why, every one has been faced with the fact that they may lose their uterus. I can honestly say that it does not matter if it is someone who is 20 years old or 90 years old.  Many of these women feel the fear of being looked upon as no longer being a woman.

Why all the fear?

One word: Society! (and its beliefs that get handed down from generation to generation)

One must recognize the simple fact that the uterus is only a muscle. It does not define us as being a woman. Most women do not want surgery.  Like all of us, most women do not want to lose any body part.

But you must realize when the quality of your life is being jeopardized or if your life is threatened, the removal of your uterus can save your life.  Just because you lose your uterus doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy anymore or that your sex parts won’t work. There are so many misbeliefs and myths out there that threaten our sexuality, especially for us as women.

Why can I say this? Well let’s just say I’m speaking from experience.  When I was 19 years of age, I not only lost my uterus but also my ovaries. When I woke up from my surgery, the first words out of my mouth were: ”Am I still a woman?”  This was not an intentional thought, but a deep underlying subconscious thought programmed by my family and society.

No one ever told me what I was going to feel.

No one explained to me that I was still going to be able to have a relationship and have sexual encounters that I would enjoy (meaning yes, you still can have an orgasm even if you have lost your uterus).

No one ever sat down with me to explain that I would be okay and still wanted and accepted.

No one ever told me or reassured me that I was still a woman.

I did not know how I was going to go through life after that, since I was not married yet. What was I going to tell my future boyfriends? Yes, I will marry you, but there is one thing: I can’t have babies?

What was everyone going to think of me? That I was some sort of freak?

At the time of my hysterectomy, I didn’t have the chance to think about losing my choice of whether to have children or not; I was more focused on the fear of rejection.

You may ask: was I ever rejected? Yes, I was. but in my own mind what happened to me was a result of me adopting society’s beliefs which made me feel that something was wrong with me. Society made me feel judged at times, not only as not being a woman but it even made me feel subhuman.

I had to fight back my tears and hurt to realize that if someone could not accept me for me, then they did not deserve me.  Unfortunately this took me time to figure out and understand.

I had to realize that the image of being a woman comes from two places:

Our hearts and our minds.

Just because a woman does not have a uterus does not make any difference. If you wanted children, you could adopt.  If the person you marry is divorced with children, then his or her children can become your children as well.  If you choose not to have children, then that is not a requirement of being female or for qualifying as a woman.

I share my story with my patients who are about to have surgery, including when I was having a period that lasted 3 weeks and I only had 1 week off a month, which was no picnic along with getting anemic all the time and putting stressors on my activity level and my family.

I share:

Now I can wear white jeans or pants anytime I want.

I saved a bundle on feminine products. (The old pads I could use as wrist bands, and tampons I could use if I ever had a nose bleed!)

My family now can vacation anytime; we don’t have to wait for the appropriate time.

Now I can have sex anytime, and I don’t have to be afraid of getting pregnant.

I would also like to share with you what happened when my office staff asked me to go to the store to buy pads for our patients. Now being a prehistoric woman when I was young, we just made our own; so going to today’s feminine hygiene section in the store was an adventure, for I had never seen so many to pick from!  When I got to the store, I was blown away to see an entire wall filled with feminine products. I was not sure which ones to buy, so I just bought one of everything, including the ones for thongs, and filled my cart.  All I could think about was: thank goodness I never really had to worry about all these products and, wow, had I saved a lot of money!

Enough about my story…

Remember: the reason for your surgery is about saving your life for the love of yourself and to be able to have a life with your significant others, which is what matters.  All that pain and suffering, bleeding, and stress that affected your relationship hopefully will no longer be present. After the surgery is complete, you will be able to live a normal, freeing lifestyle.

The lesson to be learned is that your perception of being a woman is what matters.  It does not matter how we dress or how we act or what parts we have or do not have. It is about your love of life and the love you have for yourself. Once you have that, then you can share that with those who appreciate the courage and strength you had to survive your surgery.

I praise your courage and wish you peace when you look at yourself in the mirror. I hope you can see the beauty of being a woman that you possess.

Be grateful for your life, as all of us who are in it are for your presence,

Dr. Christina

  • Posted By: doctorc
  • Tags: bear children being a mother being a woman define woman defining a woman fear of rejection feeling sexy female giving birth great moms hysterectomy individual make us women makes you a woman making a family missing uterus mom material mother orgasm rejectionf relationship sex organs sexual encounters society society beliefs socital beliefs surgery threaten our sexuality unable to bear children unique uterus what defines a woman woman womanhood
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