Done With The Pain: Why I Chose to Have a Hysterectomy During My Childbearing Years

When you think of who has a hysterectomy you tend to think of your mom… or your moms’ mom. I was in my thirties when I decided to have mine and while it is not the norm, it happens more often than you would think and definitely more than we talk about.

There seems to be something almost taboo about the procedure and I hope by sharing my story I can start a conversation or in the very least shed some light on a very personal decision.

At 25 I started having severe abdominal pain. It was so bad I would occasionally pass out while on the toilet or double over mid-conversation without any forewarning. I’m a pretty tough chick (or is that hard-headed?) and only after cajoling by friends did I decide to go to a doctor. My abdomen was riddled with endometriosis and was home to a cyst the size of my fist. After surgery and six months of medically induced menopause, I finally felt normal.

Fast forward seven years later…

…and the pain started again, albeit more subtly at first. I wanted to have children and it was almost as if the thought of having them sent my uterus into a panic. I was seeing an acupuncturist who was successfully managing my pain, but every doctor we saw said I either needed to get pregnant immediately or have surgery.

Since I did not want to go through the surgery again and we had been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for about a year, we went to a fertility specialist and managed to get pregnant on our first round of IVF.

The pregnancy came with its own complications. While my endometriosis was under control, I started developing fibroid cysts in my uterus. One was so big that it blocked my twins from view and the doctor erroneously told me that I had miscarried. It took three weeks and a botched D & C (dilation and curettage) to realize I still had a healthy pregnancy. 

The fibroids had to stay in the whole time and even with giving birth via C-section it was too risky to take them out. I was told they would shrink on their own after pregnancy and they did. Until I got pregnant again when my twins were just past their first birthday. The fibroids were there again this pregnancy and just as ferocious as ever. After this pregnancy however, they did not subside. In fact, they got worse.

Whether it was because I was too busy from having three kids…

…so close in age or just abdominally numb from my two C-sections, the pain did not bother me as much as it had in the past. Who has time for pain when you are trying to feed a family of five?

What I did notice was the bleeding. Menorrhagia they call it and it was awful. My periods would last for 8 days and the bleeding would be so intense that every hour for the first couple of days I would have to change out a super tampon AND a heavy pad. In addition, I had to resort to wearing adult diapers just so I could sleep for 3-4 hours at a time.

My iron was so low from all of this bleeding that anemia made me tired, grumpy, and the worst: it depleted my body from what it needed to build and recover after exercise, regardless of how much I supplemented. 

When my youngest was just past his second birthday I had finally had enough and went to my doctor for a non-hormonal solution. The first time someone suggested I have a hysterectomy I was shocked. Don’t they take your ovaries? Wouldn’t I go into menopause? Aren’t they for older people? Then the mental part kicked in. What if I wanted another baby some day? Would I still feel like a woman?

Bay & Bee is a necessity for any recovering mom. Your kids run and play in a controlled environment while you sit on the couch and sip tea.

It turns out that they do not take your ovaries unless it’s medically necessary and in my case it wasn’t. This meant having a hysterectomy in my case would not cause me to go into menopause. As for the baby part, I had my tubes tied when my youngest was born and although I knew in the back of my mind that while I had a uterus I could always have more children, having a hysterectomy would be the end of any such fantasies.

The feeling like a woman part was a whole other ball game. I was afraid I would feel less sexy and therefore have a depleted sex drive. I was afraid my husband would see me differently or that I would feel different during sex since I was having my cervix removed as well. I was afraid of the recovery period and what it would entail since my children were still so young and putting my feet up all day was not an option. I weighed all of my fears against my daily battle with my uterus and am so glad that I chose to get the procedure done.

It turns out that one of my ureters was almost completely closed off and the surgeon, who had to call for assistance from a urologist, told me later that she was unsure how I was able to walk around with the amount of pain I must have been in. Bottom line: do not ignore pain, ladies. It is there for a reason.

At 18 days post-op I was still a little puffy-centered, but was able to rally to go out to dinner with my husband for his birthday.

It has been 18 months since my surgery and I am positive I made the right decision. Instead of heavy periods, I have NO periods (yay!) and instead of a uterus full of fibroids, I have no uterus and no pain.

My fears were unfounded as well. I have so much more energy now that my iron levels have returned to normal, even setting personal records during races within a few months of surgery. With proper planning beforehand and loads of helpful friends and family members recovery was better than expected.

As far as sex goes, it has only gotten better. It was slightly different at first while I got used to the new me, but now I don’t remember what the old me felt like. As a bonus I don’t have pain or periods keeping me from enjoying it whenever our kids will let us. My husband, whom I can only assume is like most men, didn’t notice any changes in my body.

So that’s my story. While I sincerely hope you are never faced with the decision to have a hysterectomy, statistics state that one out of three of us will have one by age 60. If you do need one and decide to have it, I hope your experience and results are as positive as mine have been.

Have you had a hysterectomy or are considering one? If so, what has your experience been so far?

Jennifer is an attorney who came to Jacksonville for law school over a decade ago and decided to stay after meeting her husband, Steve. They have three children: four-year-old twins, Liam & Daphne, and a three-year-old son, Gavin. Jennifer served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps, which has provided her with a unique perspective on “assembling the troops”, an especially useful tool when trying to get three kids out of the house on time for school. Always striving to achieve the perfect balance, Jennifer consistently has a race on the horizon and a new recipe pinned to try. She is General Counsel for Neptune Fire Protection Engineering, LLC and currently serves on the Neptune Beach Police Pension & Retirement Board, in addition to volunteering at her children’s’ schools. Her interests include travel, nutrition, and fact-checking posts on FaceBook in between gratuitous viewing of cat videos.


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