The Prodigal Uterus

With the amount of misinformation that is spread about the female body and with forced birthers in the Supreme Court gearing up to get rid of Roe v Wade, I’d like to share some excerpts from the book “Woman: An Intimate Geography.” By Natalie Angier the Pulitzer Prize winning writer and science journalist.

For centuries, the female body has been (often intentionally) clouded in mystery. Hippocrates’ fundamental mistakes in understanding of the female body dictated scientific and medical (mis)understanding of it for years and years. But now, much more is understood. Just for the sake of it, let’s delve into some fun facts and explorations of the female body’s unique internal features, particularly the uterus.

The non-pregnant uterus is about the size of a child’s fist. The ovaries are the size of a strawberry. The clitoris is a complex network, and is like an iceberg in the sense that there is much more below the surface than you can see. (The full anatomy of the clitoris was only “discovered” in 1998.)

In her chapter titled “the Prodigal Uterus” Angier writes, “The war of the womb continues to this day. One of our most bellicose and indefatigable of issues, the abortion debate, distilled to a question of who owns the uterus, woman or fetus (or fetal proxy such as the church or state.)”

“The womb does not define a woman, philosophically, biologically, or even etymologically. A woman does not need to be born with a uterus to be a woman, nor does she have to keep her uterus to remain a woman. We don’t want to fall into the trap of womb-worship, or hope that men suffer from womb envy…Having said all of that, I argue that the uterus was and is a magnificent invention, a revolution in physiology…”

“More recently, the uterus has emerged as a maker as well as a taker. Yes, it responds to steroid hormones from ovaries and other organs, but it also expresses hormones and releases them into the global marketplace of the body. It makes proteins, sugars, and fats… the uterus also fabricates drugs that in other contexts would be illegal. It synthesizes and secretes beta-endorphins and dynorphins, two of the body’s natural opiates and chemical cousins to morphine and heroin.”

“[The uterus] makes anandamide, a molecule almost identical to the active ingredients in marijuana. Until recently, these compounds were thought to be exclusive property of the central nervous system- the brain and spinal cord…The uterus produces at least as much opiate material as neural tissue does, and makes ten times more of the cannabis equivalent than any other organ of the body does.”

In other words, the uterus secretes feel good chemicals and hormones, just like the brain does. How amazing is that?

I haven’t entirely decided what my purpose or my argument in this blog post is other than to exemplify the incredible nature of the female body and to state unequivocally that woman/person with the womb, owns the womb. There is still so much that is unknown about the female body, but at its very simplistic form, woman/ person with the womb, owns the womb. The uterus serves a purpose beyond growing life. It secretes chemicals that are necessary to the well-being of the woman/person with it. We own our wombs. We own our reproduction AND our decision to avoid it. It is a nature-given gift and burden. Let it continue to be our decision to make.

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