A number of feminists have recently expressed concern about the new menstrual suppression literature/medication ‘cause it’s oppressive and demeaning and whathaveyou to say that this natural part of being a woman is something that should be suppressed. Of course, this ignores all the women who don’t particularly like bleeding every month and don’t find fulfillment and wholeness in this communing with the moon or whathaveyou (clearly they have been brainwashed by the patriarchy). And then of course there’s the fact that the whole “natural” argument is crap. For most of human history, women spent a lot of time pregnant or nursing and thus not menstruating. Many women died in childbirth and even those that didn’t rarely made it past what, 40? since, well, almost no one lived to be that old. It’s “unnatural” for women to have frequent penis-vagina sex with fertile males and not get pregnant. Rather tacky to laud this suppression of the natural order of things and then jump all over people who laud another natural suppression, given that both suppressions are things many women want and neither suppression is forced on women.
hedy and i had talked briefly about what would be involved in getting a hysterectomy just that one didn’t menstruate anymore, so being a dork i researched. Basically, ovaries are responsible for the hormonal stuff, so as long as you don’t get those removed you’re fine. And removing the cervix can diminish pleasure in penetrative sex, but you can get a subtotal hysterectomy that doesn’t remove the cervix.
from http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/consumer/women/hyster.htm (emphases mine):
FUNCTIONS OF THE UTERUS & OVARIES
The uterus cradles and nourishes a fetus from conception to birth, and aids in the delivery of the baby. It also produces the monthly menstrual flow, or period.
The ovaries have two major functions. One is the production of eggs or ova, which permit childbearing. The second is the production of hormones or chemicals which regulate menstruation and other aspects of health and well-being, including sexual well-being.
If the egg that is released during a woman's normal monthly cycle is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus is shed by bleeding (menstruation).
After a hysterectomy, a woman can no longer have children and menstruation stops. The ovaries generally continue to produce hormones, although in some cases they may have reduced activity.
Some hysterectomies also include removal of the ovaries, so the supply of essential female hormones is greatly reduced. This can have various effects, as discussed later.
BENEFITS & RISKS
A hysterectomy may be life-saving in the case of cancer. It can relieve the symptoms of bleeding or discomfort related to fibroids, severe endometriosis or uterine prolapse. On the other hand, for these non-cancerous conditions, you may prefer to seek alternatives to surgery for these symptoms or other problems related to the uterus and pelvic organs.
Symptoms like pelvic pain or unusual bleeding may not necessarily be related to the uterus. An accurate diagnosis will help you to determine the potential benefits and risks of a hysterectomy.
The risks of hysterectomy include the risks of any major operation, although its surgical risks are among the lowest of any major operation.
Hysterectomy patients may have a fever during recovery, and some may develop a mild bladder infection or wound infection. If an infection occurs, it can usually be treated with antibiotics. Less often, women may require a blood transfusion before surgery because of anemia or during surgery for blood loss. Complications related to anesthesia might also occur, especially for women who smoke, are obese, or have serious heart or lung disease.
As with any major abdominal or pelvic operation, serious complications such as blood clots, severe infection, adhesions, postoperative (after surgery) hemorrhage, bowel obstruction or injury to the urinary tract can happen. Rarely, even death can occur.
In addition to the direct surgical risks, there may be longer-term physical and psychological effects, potentially including depression and loss of sexual pleasure. If the ovaries are removed along with the uterus prior to menopause (change of life), there is an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease as well. These will be discussed later along with possible treatments.
Every person reacts differently, and reactions are a combination of emotional and physical responses. We still have much to learn about the effects of hysterectomy on sexual function.
Some women say they enjoy sex more after a hysterectomy, particularly if they had a lot of bleeding and pain beforehand. Some women feel more relaxed not worrying about getting pregnant.
Some women who have hysterectomies experience lower sexual enjoyment. There may be a number of reasons for this which are only partially understood.
For some women, uterine contractions and pressure against the cervix add to sexual pleasure. Others may feel less pleasure or reduced desire due to loss of certain hormones if ovaries were removed. Loss of hormones can cause vaginal dryness and make sex uncomfortable. Hormone replacement therapy may relieve some of these symptoms. A vaginal gel or lubricant can reduce vaginal dryness. For some women, reduction in sexual pleasure is temporary while they and their partners adjust. Because sexual feelings are so individual, it may be difficult to predict exactly how a hysterectomy will affect your feelings.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF HYSTERECTOMIES
All hysterectomies are major operations involving removal of at least the uterus. Some types of hysterectomies involve removing other organs as well. It is important to talk with your doctor about the kind of hysterectomy recommended for you.
In this operation, only the upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is not. Tubes and ovaries may or may not be removed. This procedure is always done through the abdomen. Leaving the cervix may help with later sexual enjoyment. After this operation, a woman still needs to have regular Pap smears to prevent cervical cancer.
The first i heard of the recent papal statement on men and women was when hedy linked to this and said: "The pope is an essentialist.. I am irked. We are shocked." Then my father e-mailed:
Has the Pope become a "difference feminist"?
No, difference feminism is just a variation on an old, old theme: women are different than men--and better. Less selfish, more concerned with others, oriented to people rather than things, not so lost in abstractions. Why, if women ran the world, there would be no more war, no rich hurting the poor, no ....
Of course, that's not quite the conclusion the Vatican draws. Rather, it says that men should emulate women in this way. At least, that's how Roderick Long seems to read "LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD."
He is appalled, which is what one would expect from someone who comes from an Ayn Rand hyper-individualist perspective (one of her books was titled The Virtue of Sefishness).
An Associated Press story with a different focus:
The actual letter, "from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 31, 2004, the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary."