Skip to Content
Sex, Lies and Secrecy: Dissecting Hysterectomy cover image

Sex, Lies and Secrecy: Dissecting Hysterectomy 200?

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016; 202-808-4980
Produced by Carol Moore-Ede for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Directed by Carol Moore-Ede
VHS, color, 60 min.

Aging, Gender Studies, Health Sciences, Human Sexuality, Women's Studies

Date Entered: 09/09/2005

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College, Kansas City, MO

In North America, three quarters of a million hysterectomies are performed yearly. Many women suffer devastating physical, sexual or emotional consequences as a result - consequences which are not reversible. Sex, Lies and Secrecy: Dissecting Hysterectomy looks at the problems which affect 41% of the women who undergo this surgical procedure. The majority of hysterectomies are now considered unnecessary. In this documentary, sociologist Dr. Zelda Abramson talks to patients who underwent this surgery. Other scientists and physicians are also interviewed, including Dr. Nick Leyland who specializes in non-invasive alternatives. The author of Misinformed Consent, Lise Cloutier-Steele also speaks out about the problems that result for many women after having this surgery.

Women’s health and sexuality are considered from the historical perspective, providing a fascinating backdrop for this subject. While more than 50% of women will say that “a hysterectomy is the best thing that ever happened” to them, for the 41% who do suffer side effects, they are devastating ones such as incontinence, loss of sexual drive, loss of feeling female, depression, loss of memory - even loss of maternal feelings. Some of the women interviewed say that they are considered “psychologically disturbed” when they mention such complications following the surgery.

This documentary, and those involved in its making, pull no punches. Removal of the ovaries is referred to as “castration.” Hysterectomy is likened to sexual mutilation. Not disputing the need for a hysterectomy where cancer is concerned, questions are raised about this surgery for fibroid tumors and even endometriosis. Alternative therapies are discussed. Perhaps the most interesting segment deals with the historical facts related to how men have perceived women over the ages and how hysterectomy was used to control wives and curb promiscuity of women during Victorian times. While more consideration is usually given to women of childbearing age, the lack of concern for older women is also explored.

This important documentary should be viewed by any woman considering a hysterectomy. This is also a valuable tool for using in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies courses.

Audio and video qualities are very good. The use of historical pictures and graphics greatly enhance the production. An appropriately pleasant musical background completes the presentation.

This documentary is highly recommended.