A yes to prophylactic hysterectomy - congregation for the doctrine of faith in response to a question


I want to know how many of the people who are having such a problem with this are women who have actually had issues with their reproductive organs?

If my uterus is causing me harm, and could rupture and kill me, I wouldn’t think twice about having it removed.

Why is this any different?


I don’t think that is what is being addressed by the CDF here. The issue you are talking about was addressed by the CDF in 1994 (the current answer tries to distinguish itself from this one):


The current answer at issue only has to do with a uterus that cannot bring a baby to viability, not one that will harm the mother.


The uterus’ only job is to be a hospitable environment for a fetus.
If it cannot do that, then how is it morally wrong to remove it?


What is the intention for removing it, other than to directly prevent a conception that cannot be brought to viability?


Or would you think twice about having the defective organ removed if it wasn’t directly related to reproduction? Why is removal of a non functioning organ that can cause harm only forbidden if it is a reproductive organ? Would Catholics care if you had a potentially dangerous kidney removed?

We aren’t talking about getting a vasectomy because you don’t want kids.


Or kill me?
A ruptured uterus can call a woman. Why would I not remove it?

And, FWIW, conception happens in the fallopian tubes, it is only implantation that occurs in the uterus.


Procreation has certain moral aspects to it that a kidney’s functions do not. And in any event, there is no problem with removing sexual organs for therepeutic means. The problem here is not removing them for therepeutic means, but doing so to prevent conception while still engaging in intercourse (because the pregnancy would cause problems). Pregnancy can be avoided without engaging in contraception or sterilization.


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If it is an immediate threat to your health, you can have it removed. If the only threat is from a future pregnancy, you can’t remove it to prevent the pregnancy according to what the Church has taught (again, see the 1994 CDF answer).

From what I have read, it is generally not even possible to conceive after a hysterectomy as the ovaries generally cease functioning shortly thereafter. And again, if the uterus is not a threat to the mother, but only does not allow implantation, what would be the point of removing it? The Catechism says we cannot perform amputations except for “therapeutic” reasons.

“Therapeutic” seems to be distinguished from “preventative” in the medical context (see for example therapeutic vaccine vs. preventative vaccine).


None of us are God and we don’t know 100 percent or not if any conception will result in viable life. Every opportunity must be allowed.


but of a couple for which it is not possible to procreate is also a couple where the woman is physically to old to become pregnant.


What? If the ovaries are not removed during surgery, they do not cease to function. They still produce hormones and ova.

A friend of mine had to have her uterus removed after she got an infection after a c-section. She was 24 and doctors felt removing her ovaries was not necessary at the time, and more prudently, because they did not want to put a new mother through menopause at 24, so they left them. She is now in her early 50’s and manifesting menopausal symptoms. That would not happen if what you say is true.


I think we really have to be cautious with relying on how “traditional moral theology” (whatever that term means) in the field of bioethics. There is only moral theology. What is “traditional” simply cannot apply to something that relies on new knowledge. It is this realization of the need for a living advisory group that lead to the creation of bioethics centers by Pope John XXIII.

I think it also important to understand that some issues are so new that only a best understanding is given. If you are uncomfortable with a hysterectomy in such a case, simply do not have one.


Ok, a couple articles said normal functioning ceases after a year or so but it seems it depends on the nature of the hysterectomy and how much is removed of or near the tubes. A complete hysterectormy (which includes the ovaries it seems) would prevent conception.

In that light where conception is still possible, that would make the procedure abortive. It would just directly cause the abortion earlier than the spontaneous one. Is it ok to abort a child who will later die in the womb to protect the health of the mother? Analogically, we can’t kill someone who is terminal.

That still seems like doing evil for good.

I’ll think about it more…


Rarely these days (late 1980’s to now) are total hysterectomies done - (uterus, ovaries, tubes), unless for cases of cancer. If done for continual uterine dysfunctional bleeding or fibroids, a vaginal hysterectomy (just removal of uterus) is done- much shorter recovery time and less chance of complications. Plus, the ovaries will still provide natural hormones, usually eliminating the need for estrogen replacement therapy, thus lessening the risk of breast cancer. I’m not sure where this idea of that it’s common for ovaries to cease functioning after a hysterectomy comes from…


They do seem to have in mind cases where one can conceive, though, else they would not mention recourse to infertile periods as an option, would they?

without, therefore, excluding other options (for example, recourse to infertile periods or total abstinence).

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