On the other hand, I think I’ll keep those ovaries. More than half the women who undergo hysterectomy also choose to have their ovaries removed. But as knowledge grows about the protections offered women by our own estrogens, researchers now recommend that most women keep their ovaries intact a bit longer:

About half of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the U.S. each year
include surgical removal of the ovaries along with the uterus. The most common
reason cited for ovary removal is to prevent ovarian cancer.

But there is growing evidence that ovary removal may be associated with an
increased risk for heart disease and stroke, and other age-related
diseases, such as osteoporosis and even dementia.

The ovaries continue to produce hormones even after menopause that may be
protective against such diseases, says ob-gyn Leonardo J. Orozco, MD, of the
Women’s Hospital, San Jose, Costa Rica…..

For women at high risk of ovarian cancer, including those with a strong
family history of the disease and those with a genetic predisposition to get
the cancer, the benefits of ovary removal are clear, says UCLA professor of
obstetrics and gynecology William H. Parker, MD.

But for the vast majority of women who don’t have these risks, removal of
the ovaries during hysterectomy may not be justified, he says.

Parker’s own 2005 study of hysterectomy patients between the ages of 40 and
80 with an average risk for ovarian cancer found no survival benefit associated
with ovary removal at any age, and a survival disadvantage associated with the
practice up until the age of 65.

It’s the economy, stupid. What had become a truism for business writers – "women’s growing share of the economy" – has suddenly become far less so, as the current slump crunches everyone:

For the first time since the women’s movement came to life,
an economic recovery has come and gone, and the percentage of women at
work has fallen, not risen, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
reports. In each of the seven previous recoveries since 1960, the
recovery ended with a greater percentage of women at work than when it

When economists first started noticing this trend two or three years
ago, many suggested that the pullback from paid employment was a matter
of the women themselves deciding to stay home — to raise children or
because their husbands were doing well or because, more than men, they
felt committed to running their households.

Many of us didn’t quite buy that explanation, even as newspapers and TV shows brought us tons of anecdotal evidence (and preening back-to-the-kitchen moms).  We guessed that it was more about the shrinkage of options for many women, and the numbers are now here to support it.

But now, a different explanation is turning up in government data,
in the research of a few economists and in a Congressional study, to be
released Tuesday, that follow the women’s story through the end of

After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being
afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns,
layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an
outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out
or disappearing for awhile.

What helped drive up the percentage of women in the work force were
the thousands who came off welfare and took jobs in the 1990s, pushed
to do so by the welfare-to-work legislation. A strong economy eased the
way. So did tax credits and more subsidized child care. Now as the
economy weakens and employers shrink their payrolls, many of these
women struggle to find work.

Midlife women are hardly exempt from this trend. But at least we have lots of practice reinventing ourselves:

Lisa Craig, 42, is among them.
Raising three sons in her native Chicago, she had worked only
occasionally since high school and started receiving welfare benefits
in 1993. For the next seven years she took courses in office skills,
was a volunteer in a day care center and served for a while as an
unpaid intern for a college vice president.

And then in 2000
she went to work. For most of that year she earned $10 an hour as a
salesclerk at a duty-free shop at O’Hare Airport, selling luxury items,
but left the job to move to Milwaukee with her children to be near her

“I was in a bad marriage,” she said, “and I was getting a divorce.”

the last seven years in Milwaukee she has worked only sporadically
although, as she puts it, she has applied for hundreds of jobs,
struggling to supplement a $628-a-month welfare check that goes almost
entirely to rent and $500 a month in vouchers. The longest tenure, 11
months, was as a salesclerk earning $7.75 an hour at a Goodwill
Industries clothing store.

She lost that job last November, but
is volunteering at the Milwaukee office of 9to5, National Association
of Working Women, hoping to draw a modest salary soon as a community

Ms. Samson, the former Maytag worker, says she can afford
to stay off work because she qualified under the terms of the plant
closing for two years of unemployment benefits as long as she is a
full-time student. She lost health insurance but shifted to her
husband’s policy.

His $40,000 income as a truck driver and her
$360 a week in jobless benefits gets them by while she takes an
accelerated program at a William Penn University campus near her home.
Graduation is scheduled for January 2010.

“If I were a single
parent or did not have benefits,” Ms. Samson said, “I would have had to
find a job. I could not have gone back to school to get my degree and
the promise it holds of a better job.”

That for Ms. Samson is a
good reason to drop out. Just working, which she has done nearly all of
her adult life, is unappealing, she says. Even interior design, for
which she once earned an associate’s degree, does not excite her
anymore, she says, mainly because people can no longer afford to fix up
their homes.

National Association of Second-Career People: Speaking of reinvention, the AARP now offers scholarships specifically for women over 40:

The national organization is accepting applications for its second
annual Women’s Scholarship Program, targeting women 40 or older who
need financial assistance to seek new job skills, training and
education to support themselves and their families.

And its criteria tailor-made for women undergoing the challenges described in the Times article above.

Priority will be given to women who:

  • are returning to the workforce after an extended absence
  • are underemployed (in a job with limited pay, limited growth opportunities and limited benefits)
  • are
    grandmothers or other female relatives raising another family member’s
    child/children (with the ability to demonstrate significant financial
    responsibility for those child/children).

That’s "Bishop Ida" to you.
If you were intrigued by last week’s Mix about Annette Faulk, the
front-runner for the Anglican Church’s first female bishop, the sight
of these renegade Boston women
may be of interest. Unlike their peers across the pond, Boston’s Roman
Catholic Womenpriests held this weekend’s bishop-ordination ceremony in
a Protestant church, because the Vatican would have none of it:

The ceremony, like several others that have taken place around the
world over the past six years, was denounced by the Roman Catholic
Church, and critics said the event was a stunt with no religious
significance. The Catholic Church has consistently taught that only men
can be ordained as priests, and the Archdiocese of Boston said that the
women who participated in yesterday’s ceremony had automatically
excommunicated themselves by participating in what it said was an
invalid ordination ceremony.

But the women who participated in the event, along with the several
hundred people who spent nearly three hours in the sweltering Church of
the Covenant, said they rejected the excommunications and believed that
the women had been validly ordained. The women were vested with white
chasubles and red stoles and greeted with a standing ovation as they
were declared to be priests. They then helped preside over a service at
which they declared bread and wine to be consecrated and offered what
they called Communion to anyone who wished to receive it.

The ceremony was organized by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an
organization that is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Catholic Church officials say the women are not Catholic, their
ordinations are not real, and any sacraments they attempt to celebrate,
including yesterday’s Eucharist, are invalid.

"The organization calling itself Roman Catholic Womenpriests is not
recognized as an entity of the Catholic Church," the Archdiocese of
Boston said in a statement Thursday. "Catholics who attempt to confer a
sacred order on a woman, and the women who attempt to receive a sacred
order, are by their own actions separating themselves from the Church."

The Womenpriests organization says their ordinations are legitimate
because Catholic bishops in good standing ordained their first members
to become female priests and bishops. Therefore, they argue, the women
being ordained can claim apostolic succession, or direct descent from
Jesus’s apostles…

"We know only too well in how many ways Vatican church leaders
refuse to acknowledge the equality in Christ that God has established
between men and women, and how they constantly try to reimpose the
precedence of men over women, which is unchristian," [new bishop Ida] Raming said. "We
give witness to the whole world that it is not male gender which is the
prerequisite for a valid ordination, but faith and baptism, the
foundation of our dignity and equality."

By Chris Lombardi

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.