Living without a uterus

Physically and morally, some women who suffer from endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory disease, decide to have the uterus removed. This choice has repercussions on their fertility, their relation to femininity and sometimes even their sex life. But to get there, most fought hard and took years to find a listening ear.

“A deliverance”, “the miracle solution”, “a salutary operation”. For women who have endometriosis, hysterectomy – a surgical procedure that involves removal of the uterus – is often the term of years of struggle against excruciating pain.

However, getting the approval of a doctor for such an intervention is not an easy task. Some had to fight to get even the diagnosis of their disease by stressing their ills: nausea, very strong abdominal pain – to the point of being unable to do anything – or heavy bleeding .

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a gynecological disease characterized by the presence of endometrial tissues outside the uterus, either on the ovaries, tubes or ligaments that support the uterus and also on nearby organs such as the bladder and the uterus. ‘intestine. It is estimated that in the world, 10% to 15% of women suffer.

According to data from Endometriosis Network Canada, a non-profit organization, the disease is diagnosed correctly after 10 years on average, while it is usually present at the first menses.

Accused of adding more, of simply not wanting to go to work or to be cozy, some women ended up facing a wall. However, endometriosis occupies an immense place in their lives, which they must articulate around this disease, as for Cindy Sirois, who was diagnosed at the age of 27.

I was told that all women have pain during their periods, that it was in my head that I was not strong enough.

Cindy Sirois, 40 years old

A recurrent speech

Dr. Ian Brochu, a specialist in endometriosis at the Montreal CHUM Pain Clinic, is not surprised by these testimonies.

“It’s a speech we often hear. There is still the misconception that the rules are necessarily painful. In general, there is a lack of knowledge about menstruation, especially because it is a complex subject, which requires the involvement of several specialists, “he says.

For these women, the recognition of their disease is only the beginning of a long way of the cross, because afterwards, hormonal treatments or laparoscopy – an operation that consists of observing the inside of the reproductive system for possible burn endometriosis tasks – are part of their daily lives.

Hysterectomy is the last resort. This operation is even providential. Because the uterus of these women is the origin of their pain, it’s like “one leg with gangrene,” says Cindy Sirois.

We suffer so much, that it seems to us the only solution

Annie Chabot, who has been living without a uterus for four years
When these women make the decision to have a hysterectomy, they take it knowingly. It has a price, and early menopause is one of them.

A sexual life turned upside down

“When the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries are removed, these women are fully exposed to the symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, or hot flashes, without having had a period of premenopause “, explains the sexologist Jade Cousineau.

Cindy Sirois had to learn to make love differently since she no longer has a uterus. “I’m 40, but I have the body and libido of a 70-year-old woman. With my spouse, we love each other differently “, she testifies with a certain resilience.

For some, there is only laughter to get the wrongs. “With my spouse, we tried to play down, we tried to laugh. But it is certain that when I am with a group of friends, I feel a little lonely “, testifies Caroline Thibault, menopausal at 33 years old.

For Annie Chabot, the operation was rather beneficial for his life as a couple. “Before, I could not have sex [sex] without it hurting me. It’s as if I had bruises inside. I felt that I was limited and I felt that my spouse deserved better. He has always been very sensitive and understanding. Today, I have found a normal sex life, but it is also because I am not menopausal, “she says.

Before her operation, she questioned herself a lot about her ability to feel pleasure without a uterus.

The intensity of orgasms can indeed decrease. Women may also feel they have lost their femininity. As they no longer have a receptacle for the sperm of their partner, they feel incomplete. The attitude of the partner is then essential to help them.

Jade Cousineau, sexologist

To have the uterus removed, with all the symbolic dimension that this organ carries, it is ultimately for these women a little like mourning a member they would have lost.

Bryce Fortino

Bryce Fortino is a Senior Politics Reporter at Spruce Tribune covering state and national politics, . Before joining  Spruce Tribune Chronicle, Bryce worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Bryce has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.

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