Apr 2021

The Dreaded “H” Word

  • By: Samantha Denäe

The “H” Word. It is a word we hate hearing yet seem to hear so often when living with Endometriosis, and it is the hysterectomy.  Whether it be partial (removal of the uterus) or total (removal of the uterus and cervix, and often times the fallopian tubes and ovaries), it is typically among one of the top three treatment options offered when diagnosed with Endometriosis for Black women and women of color. A hysterectomy requires surgery and is a final decision, and while there are plenty of treatment options available, why is it often offered as treatment first?

In my experience, after receiving my diagnosis, a hysterectomy was offered as a means of treatment by a few doctors as a means to end my debilitating period pain. It did not feel as though it was from a place of concern, but rather from a place of being “scissor happy”. Excited to cut. Excited to receive the payout from it because let’s be honest, the money made from hysterectomies yearly is astonishing, but unexcited to try to heal or relieve the pain caused by Endometriosis to have a hand at normalcy. It made me afraid to even have laparoscopic procedures to treat the actively growing Endo. I would tell my doctor before every surgery, “Please leave everything the way you found it. I don’t want to wake up without a uterus and if you have to, please only take one ovary.” The fear was insurmountable. Paralyzing even. I am sure every woman who looks like me or who comes from a background of color, can agree that even with all of the fears Endometriosis brings, waking up to an unplanned hysterectomy is the worst fear of all. 

According to the CDC, 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States, the highest rate out of all countries. Within those 600,000 hysterectomies, Black women seem to account for higher rates than other races, especially Caucasian women. Racial bias has plagued Black women and women of color for centuries considering there are racist roots embedded in reproductive health. Aside from other factors like financial standing and environment (access to good healthcare and healthy foods can depend on location), being a Black woman while maneuvering through the medical system is another job in itself. It is exhausting. We are tired and we are even more tired of feeling like we are in another place where we don’t matter. 

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