Thursday, May 8, 2008

1 in 3 American Women Castrated

Castration is an ugly word, but it's the right word to use when talking about the 600,000 American women who have their uteruses removed every year! And of them, 438,000 simultaneously have their ovaries cut out also. One out of three American women over 60 lives on without her uterus or ovaries, and is never the same for their loss.

Never the same sexually: a woman who always had uterine contractions during orgasm can't have them ever again after a hysterectomy. Furthermore, even if her ovaries are not removed, sexual sensation is diminished because of the severing of nerves and lowered flow of blood to the vagina, labia and clitoris. If a woman consents to removal of her ovaries also, she is thrown into an immediate and crushing menopause.

As someone who underwent uterine removal in her 40s, I am speaking from personal experience, but to get a sense of how bad it is for women take a look at both the website of the HERS Foundation and its associated blog and comments. The foundation's mission is to stop this continuing assault on women by the medical profession. In their comments on the blog, young women, one only 16, others in their 30's and older describe not only devastated sex lives, but loss of energy, depression, memory loss, bone and joint pain.

Nora Coffey, president of the HERS Foundation, is campaigning for a law that would require that women receive complete information about hysterectomy before they consent. They aren't getting that now, with so-called patient education information limited primarily to talking about the uterus's function as a baby incubator. (You don't need it anymore, dear, do you? goes the spiel.) HERS has developed an 11-minute video that makes clear the uterus's other functions as a sexual organ and a muscle that supplies support to the bladder and bowel. The video should be required viewing before a woman gives her consent. In fact, there's a petition to sign to make that happen.

In no other country do so many women undergo hysterectomies, and the procedure is less necessary today than ever because there are now alternatives for treating bleeding from fibroids, for example, the single largest reason for hysterectomy. It's a scandal of which America's oby-gyns should be ashamed.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Do Not Mail" Campaign Against Catalog Waste

ForestEthics, a non-profit conservation group, points out that Americans receive 100 billion--that's billion--pieces of junk mail every year that cost the earth 100 million trees, while producing as much global warming emissions as 3.7 million cars.

Plus these catalogs are a damn nuisance. Every day I go from the mailbox to the recycling bin with as many as a dozen unwanted catalogs, some of them duplicates of ones that came in only a week before. These direct mail sellers obviously make enough profit to afford the cost of all this marketing, but of course those "costs" do not include the assault on the environment that the catalogs truly represent. (Nor do they include the full cost of paying the postal service to deliver them; instead of making them pay more,the postal service in the past year raised mailing costs of small magazines!)

So ForestEthics has started a campaign for creation of a national DoNotMail registry similar to the DoNotCall registry that has stopped most of the annoying calls from telemarketers.

You can get more information and add your name to their petition at one place on the web, but no doubt it will be tough to get legislation like this through Congress. In the meantime, you can opt out of receiving specific catalogs by registering with the Direct Marking Association. It's a laborious process that requires you to enter the name of each catalog you don't want, but the time spent should pay off in less time sorting the mail and fewer trips to the recycling bin. Another free service for opting out is Catalog Choice.

I've started collecting the covers of the catalogs I never want to see again, and will go through the process. Of course, the companies are not required to honor the request, but some folks report that if they follow up with a phone call, they can make even those companies stop.