Sculpture FAQ

Over the years these little beauties have raised some eyebrows. Below are the responses I currently have to these questions. Enjoy!

updated 12/2018

mural from mexico, of women in a temezcal, doing traditional folk healing

– What is the point of these sculptures?
There are two purposes:
1) First and foremost, these are pieces of art, some of the best teaching tools available for women to ‘connect’ to their uterus.

It has been interesting for me to see women interact with them over the years.  Sometimes it’s a simple ‘Aha!’ or ”Oh, that’s why.” A light turns on. A dot is connected. Other times it’s emotion.

However they respond, it opens the door to self understanding and connection between a woman and her womb. Connection is vital for healing.

2) Second purpose:  To show a standard nulliparious adult womb at midcycle (‘ovulation’ sculpture), and also show the upper weight womb change possible towards the heaviest flow days of a menstrual cycle (‘mensing’ sculpture). And to show a presentation of a menopausal womb 5 years away from menstrual cessation, demonstrating yet more tissue changes in the life of the womb.

Why are womb size or weight changes important to understand? 

Because *where* the uterus is positioned in your pelvis will impact your health, especially when it’s bigger and heavier. 

For more information on this, please research the work of Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN. Or, read about Maya Abdominal Massage.

– Why the ‘woo woo’ ?  Why not be ‘only’ medical data based?
The short answer? 

There’s already medical-only models available. I encourage you to have many styles of models to teach from!

The long answer?

…Because the world of science has not yet caught up to some of the wisdom that traditional healers have passed down for generations, often through oral tradition. They had understanding of what worked even if one didn’t understand why.

These sculptures are inspired by the teachings of traditional healers who hold knowledge of the womb, and who are adept at feeling changes in the organ through palpation. They understood the impact of life upon a uterus, and how to work with it for optimal health and wellbeing as a woman.

As women learn more about this sacred organ, they may find that the information they learn through traditional healers, or are able to gain through their own intuition and life experience, is sometimes not validated by the modern western medical model.

Because of this, when learning about their own womb, women need more than just strictly medical models to bring all this wisdom together. We need a model with one foot in both worlds. I feel my sculptures do this.

Let’s not put Western Medical Model and Folk Healing Traditions in competition with each other. They each have a different angle of wisdom that creates circumstances for healing. The future of medicine is integration.

Perhaps these sculptures can help open a dialogue between traditions further, with mutual curiosity and respect.

– What makes a uterus model ‘accurate’ or ‘correct’ ?
Such a good question! 

I’ve learned that every woman’s womb is variable in size, shape and weight based on several factors:

– age

– stage in womb life (pre-pubescent? ovulating? menstruating? pregnant? postpartum? menopausal?)

– health history (fibroids, diseases such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, as well as inflammation, etc. or not?)

– whether influenced by birth control or hormone replacement therapy or not (birth control pills have been shown to shrink womb tissues, while menopausal HRT has been shown to potentially proliferate them)

– whether or not (and how many) children she has carried (this impacts the overall size, shape of a fundus, and it’s OS opening)

– is it a ‘normal’ shaped fundus or bicornate? two cervixes or one? (these are variations that happen)

– and what about genetic variation? External labia are diversely shaped and so are lengths of vaginas. In male genitalia, there’s evidence of subtle racial shape variances. (I’ve not seen any studies on this, but why not?!  It’s funny what one thinks of when making these 😉

In summary, this is an impossible amount of variation to boil down into one image that represents all wombs everywhere, into an ‘average’ or a ‘standard’ for a model. 

But wait, isn’t that what we expect in a model? 

Case in point, take a cadaver based model. Is that more accurate?  Well, I guess it depends on if you know the facts about that particular womb, as referenced above! Then maybe we can say, yes, this is an accurate depiction of the womb for a woman that has ‘x’ health history and ‘x’ age and ‘x’ stage in reproductive life…

Do you see the conundrum? 

We are so unique. 

Each woman is unique! 

So, how do we generalize?  What do we base a model off of when the organ is so variable from so many angles?  As an artist, this poses a lot to consider.

My solution to this problem (and it is by no means the only one or best one) is to create an art sculpture that teaches the folk concepts I wanted to illustrate, but also gives an approximate medical reference point.

As a result these models are an ‘archetype’ sculpture of the womb, for a stage of womb development showing a particular function of the womb, knowing with humility that each woman will have her own story and history to project onto it and connect.

That’s important, because we can heal what we can connect with.

side view of pelvic organs
Copyright 2006 Megan Assaf

– What is the data you base your womb sculptures on?
The ‘ovulating’ sculpture has size, weight, and shape dimensions which are easily found in a variety of sources including the afore mentioned medical texts, medical illustrations from Netters, Clemente, and Grey as well as cadaver observation.

Also, it has been my experience that this data has ‘felt’ consistent with the midcycling wombs I’ve palpated through the belly, in over a decade of doing maya abdominal massage for women.

The menstruating sculpture weight is based on numbers I learned in maya abdominal massage training (which taught Central American folk traditions of womb care combined with science from the West).

From this I learned that wombs become heavier during the month, peaking before and on the first day of an actual menses. This is why some cultures have traditions around this time of the month to protect the uterus… such as not lifting heaving things, or walking barefoot/ sitting on cold surfaces to reduce risk of having the womb drop low, which can harm fertility, cause pain in sex, and give menstrual cramps as well as bladder leakage and constipation! This information has been validated in the many women I’ve served over the years, hearing their stories and listening to the way they describe their wombs on their menses.

Right and left leaning examples of womb displacement
Copyright 2006 Megan Assaf

The mensing womb size comes from three sources: first, traditional folk healing information on a womb being enlarged/engorged just before and during menses; second, clinical palpation of living wombs right before onset/first day of menses, which in my experience is consistent with the folk healing information… (I observe it palpates quite obviously larger and spongier when it’s actually mensing and not having a ‘breakthrough bleed’ from birth control pills… and many times typically feels close to the actual size of this model, give or take a little, depending on the woman’s personal history); and third, it’s based on the size to weight ratio of the ‘ovulating’ clay sculpture for which we have much technical science data. Given these three factors, the ‘mensing’ sculpture size felt adequate to me to demonstrate the folk wisdom concept of weight changes that these sculptures were intended to teach.

The mensing womb shape is based on medical illustrations, cadaver study, and palpation as well.  

Keep in mind that anytime we combine oral tradition folk wisdom (that didn’t have ultrasounds to ‘prove it’), with modern scientific research, we have to be willing to make room for more than one paradigm to understand the value of what is before us. 

Still need more ‘proof’?  No problem. Here’s a list of some medical data references.

All black and white images and text on this page is copyright 2019 Megan Assaf.
Do not reproduce without permission.