“A hysterectomy does nothing for a woman’s femininity other to make her feel less of a woman, less feminine.
The first sign of womanhood is the shedding of blood when we begin our periods which for many can be as early as 8 years of age. It is the first sign that our uterus is in preparation for motherhood/adulthood and that we are no longer just ‘little girls.’ It changes the way we see our body, forcing us to be become aware of this most precious part of ourself when we can barely tie our shoe laces!
As we mature and head into adulthood and become more aware of our sexuality, we are left we little information about the significance of the changes, our responsibility for managing the changes and the consequence of an intimate encounter, which is more than just having a baby! The physiological changes within the body and especially the impact on the pelvic floor and the vaginal gateway should be mandatory teachings.
Conditions such as PGP – Pelvic Girdle Pain and the debilitations it can cause should be taught in schools since it affects approximately 25% of the adult population during gestation! Ask any sufferer about the pain and discomfort this can cause, many women having to use crutches – barely able to open their legs even enough to put on a pair of knickers, or use the lavatory without assistance.
A lack of understanding about the importance of the pelvic floor during pregnancy as a “support system under increased pressure” (see diagram above) in need of an increased level of strength (tightening) which also requires the same level of relaxation in delivery (the part that is frequently overlooked), can cause many women to suffer trauma. During labour and delivery a tight or traumatised pelvic floor that does not know how to relax effectively to allow the baby along the vaginal canal with as minimal discomfort as possible, usually leads to difficulties during that delivery and inevitably a 3rd degree tear or worse. As a male friend and colleague said yesterday in studio “If little attention is paid to the pelvic floor, then labour is traumatic, not just for the woman, but also for the husband who witnesses and ‘hears’ the tear!”
Post baby this is now increasingly resulting in a uterine prolapse for too many women in the late 20 or early 30’s. The prospect for many by the time they pluck up the courage to go to the doctor is hysterectomy! The problem with a hysterectomy at such an early age apart from not being able to bear more children, is a lack of understanding about the important role the uterus and cervix play in sexual function and identity (both sexual and personal). Sexual desire and a loss of libido can decrease after hysterectomy, due to damage to the nerves and supportive structures of the pelvic floor. For many women this can be very costly to their marriage and lead to psychological change which may cause depression and a loss or sense of purpose.
I met a beautiful young lady whom I began talking to about my work as she served me in a department store, who had the most horrendous experience with her first baby aged just 28. She was left in the care of a trainee nurse who cut straight through her pelvic floor muscles and then screaming at all the blood and terror she inflicted. She subsequently suffered a total uterine prolapse had 6 operations and has no chance of another baby and the hospital tried to cover-up offering just £100 in compensation! This experience has cost this beautiful English Rose her marriage, tested her sanity, helped by much counselling and an amazing support network! This should not be happening in 21st century Britain, where Richard Branson is developing the resources to fly us to Mars, selling tickets for £100k!
Since our femininity, womanhood and confidence are very closely tied to our cervix and uterus, it is quite perplexing to think that when we suffer fibroids, unusually heavy periods, chronic coughs or bad childbirth experience, we accept a hysterectomy as the only or best solution for the short-term to eliminate the pain without a thought for the repercussions:
- early onset menopause once the levels of oestrogen drop
- menopause can also lead to pelvic muscle weakness due to drop in hormone levels – this can lead to vaginal laxity, dryness & soreness making intercourse eventually untenable
- may cause further misery with a prolapsed bladder – since the cervix assists in bladder support
It is important to know that an anterior bladder repair to ‘fix’ a cystocele (prolapsed bladder), cuts away the part of the bladder attached to the cervix and uterus and usually results in a uterine prolapse and a hysterectomy that removes a perfectly healthy cervix (for which not all cervix’s are so) usually leads to a subsequent bladder (cystocele) prolapse!
In other words one problem solved, is another created, yet this information is rarely if ever, made available to the patient until they come back with a further complaint! This is a double whammy for the 1000’s of women who experience this on a daily basis, leaving them with a sense of hopelessness for a better outcome. It is not good enough to assume that a woman past her childbearing years does not “need” her feminine bits, or to treat her with such contempt that other options are not discussed or explored.
Indeed if you look up alternatives to hysterectomy on the internet, places like the Cleveland Clinic list pelvic floor exercise as a No.1 alternative for uterine prolapse (obviously dependent on the degree of the prolapse)
Hysteropexy is a relatively new type of surgery, a lapraroscopic resuspension of the prolapsed uterus using a strip of synthetic mesh to lift the uterus and hold it in place. One end of the mesh is attached to the cervix and the other to a bone (sacrum or sacral bone) near your spine. Once in place, the mesh supports the uterus.
Benefits of a Hysteropexy:
- Hysteropexy preserves the anatomy of the vagina – our femininity, suspending the uterus back in its normal position by reinforcing weakened ligaments with a mesh.
- Laparoscopic hysteropexy is a minimally invasive procedure, with limited disruption to the surrounding organs such as bowel and bladder, a short operation time and quick recovery afterwards.
- Many women choose hysteropexy because it enables them to ‘keep the uterus’ (as I say ‘keeping womanhood intact’). For many women, this may be influenced by a general desire to continue to feel young, intact and fertile (even after the menopause it is important psychologically). Many women express relief when they learn that the uterus can be preserved, as in most cases they had assumed that hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) was the only option.
- For women wishing to have further children, an advantage of preserving the uterus can include preserving fertility.
- The uterus and cervix may have an important role in sexual function. Sexual well-being may decrease after hysterectomy, due to damage to the nerves and supportive structures of the pelvic floor. In some women removal of the uterus may even influence sexual and personal identity. ( Bullet Point Reference: Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust).
Although laparoscopic hysteropexy is a relatively new procedure, initial results indicate that it is at least as effective as the ‘standard’ vaginal hysterectomy in curing prolapse. At the same time it offers the prospect of a move favourable outcome for sexual function of the vagina.
Our bodies really are more than technology and just as we love our iPads, iPhones, and Macs – our Gucci and Armani we must love our femininity enough to preserve it! There is no getting away from pelvic floor exercise and it IS NOT just for women of childbearing age or who have had or are having babies. Pelvic Floor Secrets is a revolution in exercise and education for this vitally important gateway and the conversations will go from a whisper to a shout, as more women begin to invest in the foundation of their femininity and the benefits it brings to every area of their life.
To find out more information about optimising your pelvic floor for life visit http://www.pelvlcfloorsecrets.com email firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7291 4499 Pelvic Floor Secrets 1 Harley Street London W1G 9QD.