Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Websites Exploit Women Worried About Hysterectomy

There they are on the home page of five attractive women, all dressed in white and smiling broadly. Why are these women so happy? They've had a hysterectomy--and obviously enjoyed it!

Yes, if you believe the claims on both Hystersisters and, having your uterus removed--and likely your ovaries as well--can not only be anxiety-free but also a happy, happy experience.

If you do believe that, as we say in New York, there's a bridge in Brooklyn we'd like to sell you.

Selling, of course, is what both these websites are about. Selling you not on the idea that most hysterectomies--as many as 90%--can and should be avoided because they are so damaging to women's health. No, not that. Instead, both websites are trying to sell you on a different type of hysterectomy, and preferably, in the case of Hystersisters, one done with the daVinci robotic system.

The convenient Find-a-Doctor feature on that website is sponsored guessed it, daVinci!

Intuitive Surgical, Inc., the company that makes the daVinci systems, is bullish on its future. The company's investor relations website reports that for the first half of 2010 revenue was up 49% from the first half of last year to $679 million.

This company's intensive public relations and advertising campaign--I've seen their press releases turned into glowing news stories by naive reporters in several newspapers--is all about getting hospitals to buy the robotic systems for a sweet $1 million to $2.3 million each.

And the revenue stream just goes on from there. Annual service agreement: between $100,000 and $180,000. Disposable instruments and accessories for each procedure: between $1,300 and $2,200.

Is it any wonder that medical costs in this country are impoverishing us?

The websites are a fabulously clever way of putting pressure on doctors and hospitals to buy the systems.

Women who've been told they need/should have a hysterectomy run to their computers for information.

And what they find at Hystersisters is designed to prompt them to ask their doctors--themselves getting pitched by Intuitive sales people--if they use the robotic systems. It's push-pull marketing at its best.

But pushing daVinci isn't the only thing wrong with these two websites, as I'll explain in my next blog in a few days.

In the meantime, any women who's considering a hysterectomy should go to the HERS Foundation website to get the cold, hard facts about the serious health problems and loss of sexuality that the surgery too often brings about.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing about HysterSisters and their obvious goal to generate income. Sadly women go there looking for objective advice, but they often just hear how great it is to have your female sex organs removed (of course they aren't called "female sex organs", they are called uterus and ovaries so as not to point out the truth that it is a de-sexing operation). They do have an area about sexual dysfunction, but that's called "The Road Less Traveled". It couldn't be more misleading to make women think that by losing their sex organs, they won't have sexual problems. But if they told the truth, they'd lose their income.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting about this. One thing I'd add is that anyone who posts anything negative about their surgery, the risks, daVinci, etc. - their posts are immediately removed. It's the Stepford of hysterectomies. HysterSisters CEO even wrote a piece, without disclosing her financial relationship with Intuitive, about how bad it was of the FDA was to warn people about the risks, after they found that 1/352, not 1/1000 fibroids at op time is sarcoma. Someone has sold her soul.

Anonymous said...

Your information about HysterSisters is eye opening. I had used that site for information prior to my hysterectomy and it is promoted as a 'helpful' site as a person searches for answers. My hysterectomy has destroyed my body; physically, sexually and emotionally. I feel as if I've had two lives. One pre and one post hysterectomy. Doctors take an oath to do no harm, but that is a joke. The benefit of hysterectomy definitely doesn't out weigh the risks. They are making money and destroying the lives of women. Hysterectomy should be illegal except in cases of cancer or severe uterine prolapse. The informed consent I signed was totally lacking and failed to detail the true after effects that turned my life upside down. There is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could go back to that day and change the course of my life. After hysterectomy, most women go on to suffer in silence due to embarrassment and the lack of accountability in the medical community. I was told by my OBGYN that I will "just have to live with it". I've got many years of suffering ahead of me.

June Gardner said...

I had nothing wrong with my female organs but I trusted doctors and when they said I had cancer and pushed me into an immediate radical hysterectomy becoming very angry and yelling that if I didn't have the surgery in 2 days I would have to have chemotherapy.. To make a long story short. They butchered 6 healthy organs and healthy lymph nodes and botched it horrendously (they did NOT tell me it was a teaching hospital) before smugly saying the day after the surgery that I had NO cancer. That all my removed organs had been healthy.. After researching several books on unnecessary hysterectomies in the aftermath of this surgical abuse I learnt that gynaecologists have been using the cancer scare to trick healthy women into unnecessary radical hysterectomies for profit for several decades, and will continue to do it in the 21st century because they KNOW they will NEVER be accountable for these surgical crimes against women...