Warning: This may get a little soap-boxy or TMI for some.
I get asked why I make uteri. This is a fair question. Uterus isn’t exactly something that comes up in every day conversation (although to be fair, it comes up at least once a week here). I usually answer with, “Why not?” or, “Because they’re awesome,” or some variation on that. There is a reason, though.
This is Camille.
When I was 15, I was admitted to the ER with intense pain in my abdomen. Sharp pain just above my right hip. No one knew what it was. My appendix looked fine, my digestive tract was ok. As a last resort, they brought in a gynocologist. I was diagnosed with salpingitis. For those unfamiliar, it’s an infection of the fallopian tubes. While he was there, the gyn suggested I go on the pill for my 8-9 day long periods that would leave me anemic. I was sent on my way. The salpingitis cleared up, the pain went away, and for the first time since I was 10 I didn’t spend 1/4 of every month dealing with intense cramps and the side-effects of anemia. Every couple of months after that when I came off the pill, the pain would come back for a day or two. Sometimes it wasn’t so bad, sometimes it was really bad. I went back to the doctor, it was a mystery. My PAPs were coming back normal, so I was healthy. Just treat with OTC pain meds. I went back to another doctor in a few more years and again, no clue. Just pain. OTC pain meds. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I figured out that the pain was actually ovulation pain. I’d had some scarring from the salpingitis and every time I ovulated out of that ovary (every other month), the egg would have to break through the scarring and there would be pain. I figured that out on my own.
When I was 20, I had rapidly evolving changes to my cervix. I ended up having to have some of it removed, and if I hadn’t been going in every year for my annual PAP, I would have more than likely ended up with cervical cancer.
Too often, a woman’s reproductive system is still referred to as “down there,” if talked about at all. I wasn’t cognizant that I had a uterus until I was in high school, and I had certainly no idea how to determine if my “down there” was healthy until I was in my 20s. There’s still a big lack of information (or misinformation) being spread about how a uterus/ovaries/fallopian tubes work, how the cervix works and what it actually does… How you do or don’t get pregnant. What healthy is and feels like, how to tell if there’s something wrong “down there.” Too many young women are ashamed to go in for a PAP because it means they’re having sex. Regardless of sexual activity, it’s recommended that every woman over the age of 18 get a PAP yearly.
So every time someone asks me why I make uteri, they’re talking about it. We need to be talking about it more, about how our uteri work, when to tell if something’s wrong, and what our options are concerning our reproductive health- even if we never plan on reproducing.