Journal of Professional Nursing

The Symbolic Experience of Hysterectomy 

Pamela Wood, RGON, BA, Christchurch Polytechnic Lynne Giddings, RGON, RM, BA(Hons), MN, Auckland Institute of Technology 

Reference:  Wood, P., Giddings, L. (1991). The Symbolic Experience of Hysterectomy. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 6(3), 3-5.


Nurses undertaking their basic nursing preparation are often taught that the uterus is “a hollow, muscular, pear-shaped organ, situated in the pelvic cavity”.  To women who have had a hysterectomy, it can be considerably more.  Because it is bound up with ideas about being a woman, the uterus carries with it symbolic ideas about womanhood.  Its removal has symbolic significance.

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