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.”

Sex as Power

By Kate Ringer

God is a woman.

Who knew four words could be so subversive, so controversial? With those four words, Ariana Grande changed her career, probably forever. These words show us that when it comes to power, especially the extreme power of a deity, gender matters. Gender really matters. You can’t just ignore gender when it comes to gods, artists, or U.S. presidents. Those roles are reserved for men, and when you dare to say otherwise, there will be backlash.

If you have yet to see the music video for “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande, I would recommend taking a moment to view it at this link before you continue to read. This video is filled with imagery empowering to women. In my personal favorite part of the music video, Grande literally breaks the glass ceiling with a giant metal hammer. The video also alludes to many classic artworks, recreating them with Grande at the helm instead of a man. For example, the last shot of the video shows a new version of Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. There is also a depiction of The Thinker by Rodin, in which Grande sits in the same posture as the thinking man while men throw gendered slurs at her, trying to tear her down. It is through these gender-reversed images that the viewer begins the realize how infrequently women are shown in positions of power historically. It is almost difficult to recognize how little representation there is until you are confronted with images that you have, amazingly, never seen before.

Continue reading “Sex as Power”

End the Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women

By Madeleine Clow

Disclaimer: Native American Indian Tribal People do not identify themselves under one label. “The question is usually posed as, ‘do you prefer to X ,Y , Z?’ to which I am expected to choose from one and categorize who I am, further marginalizing myself, and possibly someone else. It’s always difficult to answer this question because ‘I’ do not necessarily identify with any of these terms.” – Courtney Tsotigh-Yarholar, Indian Country Today

Native American history has been riddled with genocide and pain since the introduction of colonialism. The Trail of Tears is a painful memory of the forced relocation and resettlement of the Native American people to their current reservations. Originally, 15 million Native Americans began the Trail of Tears—today, there are a total of 5 million. Contemporary Americans may not be familiar with the history of the past century of Native Americans in the United States. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Native American children were forced to attend Indian Boarding School, in order, to “kill the Indian, save the man.” More recently, in the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of Native American women unknowingly went through forced sterilization by the Indian Health Service, because they were deemed unable to use other forms of birth control on their own.

These malicious acts made against Native Americans caused deep distress and dejection throughout Indian nations, that continues to affect their lives today. The unemployment rate among American Indians today is 85 percent. American Indians are 500 percent more likely to die of alcoholism than the average American. The suicide rate among American Indians is 62 percent higher than the average American. Native youth have the highest rate of suicide among any other ethnic group in the United States. One in ten American Indians become victims of violent crime. A recent study showed that the vast majority of Native women in the United States have experienced sexual assault or rape. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, “More than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence, and more than 1 in 2 have experienced sexual violence.” Why is this happening and what can we do to help American Indian and Alaska Native women? Continue reading “End the Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women”

Dolores Huerta

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Symptom of Misogyny

A sign that reads "Grab 'em by the patriarchy" with women's hands grabbing the sign
Grab ’em by the patriarchy

By Sierra Rothermich

Cat-calling, objectifying, sexually harassing, rape. According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans say recent reports of sexual harassment and assault are more reflective of widespread problems in society rather than acts of individual misconduct. Because violating women’s rights is a social norm, globally, violence against women is a detrimental public health issue.

 The World Health Organization reported that one in three women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their life. According to the World Health Organization, men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting of violence and a sense of entitlement over women. This provides evidence that men are taught to be violent against women due to a society that deems misogyny as socially acceptable. Continue reading “A Symptom of Misogyny”

A Picture of the American Sex Worker

A diverse group of protests advocating for sex workers rights. Front group holding a sign that says “sex workers rights = human rights.” By Rosemary Anderson

As I write this article, I want to make it known that the sex industry is not always positive for women and girls. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, sex workers around the world have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing violence during their careers.

When sex workers do experience violence, they are not protected by rape shield laws and are not eligible for compensation funds.

Many see sex workers as objects, non-human, and second-rate members of society. This makes sex workers even more prone to being victims of violence.

Women are forced into sex work without their consent, others are forced into sex work because of financial situations, and some choose sex work as their profession.

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