On a visit to the GP during the summer last year, my mother let him know that she did not wish to undergo a hysterectomy for her fibroids.

The GP just listened and said that he couldn’t comment without any paperwork in front of him from the obstetrics/gynaecology people. My mother returned home and carried on with her everyday tasks.

Then, on the 14th of August, a letter from the ob/gyn department of the hospital arrived with a date (December 10) and time for the hysterectomy, along with a booklet about hysterectomy and vaginal repair.

I was so surprised, and the paragraph below from the accompanying letter amazed me. Let me say that I’m not naive I’ve had the full vaginal examination that is referred to below (you know the one needing elbow length latex gloves and a female nurse present) for the diagnosis of polycystic ovaries.

And, I should point out, I was fully conscious during the procedure. But the following paragraph really is too much:

We need you to sign a consent form before we operate on you. Please ask your doctor for any information you need about the operation.

We are a teaching hospital and medical students will normally be attached to the team that will be treating you. Your doctor may therefore ask you whether you are willing to be examined by not more than two medical students while you are under the anaesthetic under proper medical supervision.

Perhaps you would like to consider before you come in whether you would be willing to take part in our teaching programme in this way; it will not of course affect your treatment in any way, if you decline.

It seems that the ob/gyn team relies on unconscious women for its “teaching” programme! I now realise that the medical profession views hysterectomy with such a dismissive attitude, and am truly shocked. M F, Oxford.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

Explore Wellness in 2021