THE CASTRATED WOMAN: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Hysterectomy by Naomi Miller Stokes

THE CASTRATED WOMAN: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Hysterectomy

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A perfervid indictment of doctors who recommend hysterectomies as elective surgery with bland assurances that the operation is a relatively minor one and that their patients' sex and emotional lives will be enhanced following it. Stokes, whose doctor had talked her into a complete hysterectomy for abnormal menstrual bleeding (and the vague possibility of cancer at some future time), experienced a total loss of her sex drive, despite hormone replacement therapy. Her doctor assured her that it was ""all in her head,"" and privately told her husband their marriage had obviously been subliminally in trouble before the operation. In preparing this book, Stokes says she interviewed 500 woman--399 had lost their sex drive entirely. Only 38 of the operations were deemed absolutely necessary, while, she says, a startling 234 alone were for sterilization. Research into medical literature revealed that post-hysterectomy patients have a threefold increase in heart disease (perhaps because the ovaries secrete a vasodilating, anticoagulant hormone) and are more prone to osteoporosis. These women require, on average, 11.9 months for complete recovery and are more prone to chronic illnesses, emotional problems, general malaise and benign breast disease. About 90% of the 750,000 hysterectomies performed annually in the US are for non-life threatening conditions which could be treated by less drastic and less costly methods; and Stokes claims the medical profession pushes this operation chiefly to make money. She advises women to eschew hysterectomy except for life-threatening conditions (chiefly cancer); and also tosses in a brief, halfhearted section on how ""castrated"" women can retrain themselves to ""get their sexual juices flowing"" again. But the book suffers from a disorganized, repetitive and emotionally-charged presentation. Stokes waxes rhapsodically over the menstrual cycle, vituperatively toward the callousness of doctors who regard the female reproductive organs as useless and disease-prone excess baggage. In sum: an important topic demeaned by an overwrought presentation.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Franklin Watts