The Hysterectomy Hoax

The Truth About Why Many
Hysterectomies are Unnecessary
and How to Avoid Them

Stanley West, M.D. with Paula Dranoy

First edition 1995
Our copy is the third (and last?) edition 2002

reviewed by Mira de Vries

The word Hoax in the title apparently refers to the medical teaching that a woman needs her sexual organs solely for reproduction.

Only cancer, the author posits, justifies removing a female organ, and even then conservative surgery may suffice. Many women are frightened into submitting to removal of their uterus when their doctor wrongly tells them that their condition is likely to be or turn malignant. Fibroids, for instance, are extremely common and do not become cancerous.

Himself an experienced gynecological surgeon, the author lists reasons for his colleagues’ eagerness to perform hysterectomies. It is what they were taught in medical school, are skilled at doing, earn well with, can bill the insurance companies for without hassle, and even use to train their students.

Sadly, hysterectomies are still as rampant today as they were when this book was first published. Professional recognition of the aftereffects of such an operation, passed off by most physicians as “all in your head,” was just beginning to emerge even in the year of the third edition. At the same time the drawbacks of many of the modern alternatives the author describes will by now be better known, perhaps reducing the value of this publication for a woman trying to decide on a treatment today.

Another impediment to decision which the author realistically mentions is finding a surgeon willing to provide alternative treatments and skilled at performing them. In addition, insurance companies are reluctant to pay for them because hysterectomy is cheaper and precludes future gynecological treatments. A woman’s choice is therefore more limited than this book suggests. However when her symptoms are not all too unbearable nor malignant, this book can help her say NO to hysterectomy.

Being written by a physician, the book carries the weight of authority that a lay person cannot attain no matter how knowledgeable and experienced she is on the subject. Yet it is an easy read devoid of excessive medical jargon, perhaps thanks to the coauthor who is a professional writer on the subject of women’s health. The Hysterectomy Hoax is therefore recommended reading for every women who has been told she needs a hysterectomy.  

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