How Easy is it to Get a Hysterectomy?

Picture of a drawn reproductive system with flowers growing out of it.
A Female Reproductive System. Image taken from: Shuttershock

By Katrina Arellano

When it comes to the bodily autonomy of someone with a female reproductive system, there are certain hoops they have to go through in order to obtain certain medical procedures, such as sterilization. There are various reasons as to why a person would want to undergo the varying kinds such as a hysterectomy or tubal ligation, like not wanting children, being a transgender man, cancer and/or to escape a painful uterine condition. Regardless of why people want to have these procedures, it seems the journey is profoundly long. People under 35 do not typically have a hysterectomy, and while there is no strict minimum age for people to be in order to have the procedure, depending on the insurance and the opinion of medical professionals, people under 35 are not usually accepted. For example, people who utilize Medicaid and seek sterilization for non-medical reasons will not be covered. Since it is federally funded, people who do have serious medical conditions are inclined to wait 30 days between signing the consent form and having the procedure. While private insurance is more willing to help cover the cost of hysterectomies, I talked with a couple of people who said their private insurance will not help cover it despite immense suffering. Even for having private insurance, my dear friend Anai Bell, 23, insurance provider will not help cover the cost of a hysterectomy and despite have undergone alternate procedures, she said. “I’ve been fighting to get one due to my endo and adeno and I can’t until I have at least 3 children.”

Three examples of what parts portraying where a partial, total, and radical hysterectomy take place. Partial is is removal of the uterus, total is the removal of the uterus and some of the vaginal canal and radical is the removal of uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Three of the 5 different types of a hysterectomy. Image taken from: Shuttershock

My old friend Zade Coronado, 27, was rejected by a surgeon who said she was not comfortable performing the surgery because even though he is transgender he could still want children of his own later. Zade switched providers, went through a series of counseling, signed a waiver stating he does not want children, and then was approved for a hysterectomy. He said, “This surgery was one of the most important surgeries… I was at higher risk for ovarian cancer because of the hormone treatments I am on.” He even mentioned how the surgeon and staff of St. Luke’s took very good care of him and were all around professional of the whole situation. Hearing of Zade’s experience as a transman was very interesting because I think it reflects a progressive world of doctors accepting dysphoria. On the other hand, it makes me question the lack of opportunity for young women to go about doing something they also feel is the answer to their discomfort. Of course, it is a good idea to thoroughly think about the risks when it comes to any procedure, for there are always side effects no matter the severity, but I also believe it’s important to respect someone’s choice to do whatever they want with their body. If someone is physically suffering for years and keeps going through the pain of trying to have a child, then why make them go through that because of that small chance they may have a child later? I asked Anai if she thought this reflected an internal bias and she said, “Yes and no. Goes back to really understating the circumstances of having a hysterectomy. Many people think it’s due to the ability to have children, but it goes more in-depth like how it affects your body and your mental well being.” I think the backlash emanates from a patriarchal stand point as well as a lack of understanding the mental and physical pain people go through at the hands of their uterus.

Hysterectomies are considered a last resort for all people considering or seeking one because of how invasive these procedures are, as well as the potential mental or physical side effects that could develop afterwards. Because of the potential physical and mental risks of undergoing sterilization, doctors try to encourage patients to seek other avenues that may not be as invasive, especially if someone is under 35. People who want a hysterectomy or their tubes tied are denied for these risks, but I think it’s deeper than wanting patients to be safe. The main reason people with or without serious medical issues are denied appears to be because of the notion of regret that might come later, for that person may want children in the future. My dear friend Jean Kel, 24, explained how some of her female family members are sterile, but have become pregnant and end up miscarrying and she believes she is the same way. She said, “I miscarried twice in my life, both times at 2 months in. The second time caused me to have my first ever seizure from losing so much blood. It was so traumatizing and hormonally I was a mess.” Jean is not alone in her experience of excruciating mental and physical pain of trying to go through a pregnancy, miscarrying, and then having her doctors still deny her sterilization. The collective of stories make me think of how much weight is put on people to have children of their own. It’s as if people and doctors do not want to accept that people, let alone women, are confident in their decisions to not want to conceive.

Jean Kel smiling behind a yellow sunflower in a bed of green shrub.

“I don’t want to conceive, I’d rather adopt. My periods are painful and heavy, and I don’t understand why I should have to go through this when I’m not trying to be pregnant. They always say, “you’re so young, what if you change your mind?” That’s okay but I don’t think I will. I know I won’t, actually. And I hate that I can’t just request it. I don’t understand why the government and medical industry has say over me and my tubes!”

Jean has not been diagnosed due to her financial situation, but hearing her experience alone is enough for me to believe something is wrong and she knows she wants/needs medical attention.

The National Women’s Health Network believes all other options should be exhausted before someone undergoes a hysterectomy, which is understandable, but how long must we make people suffer because of what could or could not happen? Even for all the backlash people hear and may continue to go through for their choice to undergo a hysterectomy, what ultimately matters is doctors listen to their patients’ concerns, doing the best they can without bias, and that the person undergoing the procedure is happy. Everyone’s relationship to their uterus is different and Allie Niemiec of HuffPost was glad to go through a hysterectomy. She wrote a piece on her mental and physical strain before she made it to the surgery table and she shared some powerful words that may help others who are struggling with what may feel like loss, “I want everyone to know I had a hysterectomy, and I am still just as much of a woman as I was before.”

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

By Kate Ringer

I have been vegan for three months now. I know I am not perfect, I know I have made mistakes, but I have been doing the best that I can.

Copy of image2
A drawing by Suzanne Ringer

Veganism has been on my radar since high school when one of my friends started a vegan diet. She claimed she was doing it for health reasons, but I quickly saw just how unhealthy she was while doing it, barely getting any of the nutrients she needed, and I thought she was absolutely crazy for attempting it. Just a few years later, I came to college and I joined the rock climbing team; suddenly, I knew many people that were vegans. These people were nothing like my friend in high school; they were strong and healthy, I frequently saw them eating nuts, fruits, and vegetables while I snacked on potato chips and candy. They weren’t doing the diet for health reasons, they were doing it for environmental and moral reasons. At first, I was incredulous; how could anyone cut all animal products from their diet? That meant no pizza, no cupcakes, no milkshakes! My favorite foods were macaroni and cheese and tacos, and I knew I could never lose those things. I had heard of vegan cheese and other substitutes, but I was wary. Those crazy vegans claimed that their food was just as good, but I knew that couldn’t possibly be true.

Continue reading “A Very Vegan Thanksgiving”

White Privilege

White-privilege1
Poster of White Privilege

 

By Beatrice Santiago

Privilege… It exists.

What is it?

Where does it come from?

When I think about defining “White Privilege,” I think about how it has affected me in my life. So many moments that I can’t seem to name a specific one. When searching for “white privilege” definitions, it was hard to find some examples. Here is what I found:

Cambridge English Dictionary:

“White Privilege: the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have. The concept of white privilege explains why white people have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions.”

Continue reading “White Privilege”

Being Mexican-American

upload146059314366628_thumb
A movie still from Selena

By Beatrice Santiago

 

                                                       “You’re from Mexico, right?”

(A question I get asked all too often.)

Yes and no. I mean my parents are Mexican, yes. But I have never been to Mexico.

So, yes, I am from Mexican descent. I speak the language and love my culture, the music (I jam to it every time), and oh gosh! our food is the best. The tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and mmmm posole. So good. However, I am also American. I was born in the United States. I have lived here my whole life. I grew up in a small town in Southern Idaho–Homedale. Out in the country, I was surrounded by endless fields of corn and many farm animals. Horses were in the backyard.

I also love hamburgers and pizza and enjoy watching American football. Don’t get me wrong, I love both cultures very much, because they are a part of who I am. My Identity. However, it is not easy in the United States. Somehow, I always find myself explaining to people why I am just as American as they are. And, just as Mexican. There is a scene in the movie Selena that explains just what I am saying. Here is the link to that scene.  Continue reading “Being Mexican-American”

Dolores Huerta

41.tif
A picture of Dolores Huerta.

By Beatrice Santiago

Few people know about this amazing woman. Although, many know Cesar Chavez. He, along with Dolores, worked to fight for the basic rights of farm workers in the fields of California. They fought for better work wages and portable restrooms for the workers, as well as fighting for the rights of Farm workers. But Dolores has not been given the credit she deserves. She did as much work as Cesar did. She is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association. This is an organization that fights for the rights of farm workers. Before we get to the work she deserves credit for, let’s talk about some history.

Continue reading “Dolores Huerta”

Planned Parenthood

Birth Control Pills
Birth Control Pills

By Beatrice Santiago 

What is Planned Parenthood?

Before we can talk about the resources of Planned Parenthood, I think it is important to understand the history of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood started at a time when sex education and birth control was not permitted in the USA. A woman by the name of Margaret Sanger would soon change all that. She was raised in Corning, New York in 1916. After seeing her mother suffer from seven miscarriages, Margaret Sanger decided to study birth control. She later traveled to Europe where she would learn about not only birth control but sex education. As a huge advocate for Women’s rights, she would soon see restrictions from opponents.

mar
Margaret Sanger

Her first birth control clinic was shut down by police. (However, the clinic was still able to offer information about birth control.) Margaret Sanger spent 30 days in jail for refusing to pay the fine. This experience led her to travel the country and talk about birth control. Eventually, two organizations named Birth Control Clinical Bureau and American Birth Control League, joined to become Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A 1936 court ruling established that birth control and the information given about it would not be seen as immoral. This was one of many barriers birth control and its education has broken through to reach the public prominence it has today.

What are the resources of Planned Parenthood?

When looking at the website of Planned Parenthood, I found it to have easy to find tabs and info for women or anyone wanting resources. Topics cover: Pregnancy Prevention, to Health and Wellness, Sex and Relationships, and Sexually Transmitted

Infections (STDs). Additionally, there are guides for high school students and information about sex education. All this I believe is vital to not only women but men as well. In Idaho, there are three centers of Planned Parenthood: Boise Health Center, Meridian Health Center, and Twin Falls Health Center. Therefore, if you wanted to go to one in Idaho from Moscow, it would be about a six-hour drive. That is a long distance. Luckily, there is one across the border in Pullman, Washington.

Continue reading “Planned Parenthood”

Politics: More Than Just A Game

Chess Board

By: Madelyn Starritt

Let’s talk about politics. No, not the name calling, whining, Democrats vs Republicans type of politics, but the nature of all political debates. The issues that we consider “politics” and how we fight over them not based on whether we think they are morally right or wrong but based on whether there is an “R” or a “D” next to the issue.

We treat these things like a game with winners and losers. But politics is more than a game, it is people’s lives. The “losers” in these situations will deal with more than their hurt pride, the laws and decisions made in politics change lives for better and for worse, this is something that should be taken seriously, not played with like a game.

Continue reading “Politics: More Than Just A Game”