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The Uterus Removal Journey: From Wandering Uteri, Witchcraft to Relatively Insignificant Organ

As always, please be aware that there are technical terminology and my own colorful language in my blogs. Those with sensitive eyes might not appreciate this blog.

 

In an attempt to create a little levity, I decided to make this post with a little bit of historical context of how society has viewed the uterus. Before I do that, though, I do have good news from my personal story in that my genetic screening came back negative for any mutations or anomalies that would warrant me to prophylactically remove my ovaries and/or breasts. Also, the last pap smear where they tested the tissue where the cervix meets the uterus was negative for cancer cells. In a nut shell, there are no active cancer cells and no genetic abnormalities to warrant extra surgery at this time.


Personally, I hate the word “hysterectomy” because it signals that a woman has gone absolutely ape s*$t and the only solution is to remove her uterus. Even at a young age, women are written off and considered “hysterical” when they are on their period or are experiencing PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder). Without hormonal birth control, women’s hormones flux throughout the month and those fluctuations are dramatic. Add life stresses on top of that and it’s no wonder why we feel “emotional.” Now, PMDD is more than just being a little tearful at a Hallmark commercial, a full-blown anxiety attack can occur and last up to several days.


Historically, men have regulated rules and laws around when women can interact with others, have sex, and even prepare meals based on where they are at in their cycle. Even in the Old Testament, there are times where women are banished to a menstrual tent and hidden away until their bleeding stopped. We have progressed in society since then, but I catch myself eye rolling at comments at least a few times a year. Especially when men think that women can just control when they bleed and how much (it’s a thing, lots of stories have gone viral about this misinformation). My favorite quote about the historical view of the uterus is from lithub.com goes,


“The uterus was believed to wander around the body like an animal, hungry for semen. If it wandered the wrong direction and made its way to the throat there would be choking, coughing or loss of voice, if it got stuck in the rib cage, there would be chest pain or shortness of breath, and so on. Most any symptom that belonged to a female body could be attributed to that wandering uterus. ‘Treatments,’ including vaginal fumigations, bitter potions, balms, and pessaries made of wool, were used to bring that uterus back to its proper place. ‘Genital massage,’ performed by a skilled physician or midwife, was often mentioned in medical writings. The triad of marriage, intercourse, and pregnancy was the ultimate treatment for the semen-hungry womb. The uterus was a troublemaker and was best sated when pregnant.” (1)


Ah, yes, the troublemaker. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t exalt my uterus all the time because mine is painful hurts and a bit of an inconvenience at times. From ancient Greece to the 20th century, views on the uterus changed. It was still just a baby box, but it was largely ignored as being significant in any other way other than that. There is a video with a link I’ll provide called “What Does the Uterus Do All Day?” The title alone makes me want to simultaneously choke someone as well as laugh out loud. I encourage you to watch it, as the man’s sense of humor is cathartic and he provides insight to the actual importance of the uterus. It also shifted the perspective of how sperm fertilizes the egg and the muscular contractions contribute more than the “strongest swimmer” of the sperm released in one go. Let’s not forget that the cervix helps to essentially throw the sperm up into the uterus during orgasm as the uterus spasms.


Please note that I am an absolute nerd on history and anatomy. I also do not shy away from technical terminology and some more colorful language at times. It’s only fair to use both, as how women function has been shrouded in mystery and misinformation for centuries. Enjoy the following links and be open to learning more as we dive deeper into this taboo topic.


  1. Hysteria, Witches, and The Wandering Uterus: A Brief History

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2. What Does the Uterus Do All Day Long?

Michael Hughey

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