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What Every Woman Should Know About Hysterectomy

W. Gifford-Jones, M.D.
published 1977, Funk & Wagnalls, New York

The number of hysterectomies performed in this country every year runs into the hundreds of thousands. Only recently has anyone begun to question whether they are all necessary. The best safeguard against borderline surgery is an informed patient. Now, for the first time, in this frank, no-holds-barred book, a practicing gynecologist tells exactly what a woman needs to know to insure that when her doctor says a hysterectomy is indicated he isn’t thinking more of his bank account than of her health.

Dr. Gifford-Jones dispels the misconceptions many women have about this operation and what it will and will not do. After first discussing when hysterectomies are necessary, he goes into when they are not. He tells why some surgeons often perform needless hysterectomies and, on the other hand, why some women often talk themselves into this operation. He provides the facts women should know to be able to ask the right questions if they are suddenly faced with making a decision about having a hysterectomy – the various methods, the alternatives to surgery, the basics of the operation itself, the after-effects.

He discusses whether there will be emotional problems (not in most cases, he says), whether it is safe or not to take estrogen (yes, he says), and whether we have been oversold on cancer (yes, he says.) He tells what to do if a woman doesn’t like her gynecologist and how to go about finding a new one who is competent.

And don’t let the general practitioner-surgeon perform the operation, he advises. GPs are not usually qualified to do hysterectomies, although, according to a recent Harvard University study, a high percentage do them. Saying no to a long-time family doctor may be difficult but Dr. Gifford-Jones has advice on how to do it.

W. Gifford-Jones, M.D., is the pseudonym of a practicing gynecologist in Niagara Falls, Canada. Born in England, he graduated from the University of Toronto, earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School, and worked at the University of Rochester, Harvard’s Boston Hospital for Women, and Montreal General at McGill University. He is the author of many magazine articles and of three previous books, including the best-selling On Being a Woman, the Modern Woman’s Guide to Gynecology. He currently writes an outspoken syndicated column called “The Doctor Game.”

What Every Woman Should Know About Hysterectomy