Hysterectomy refers to a surgical procedure that involves removing the uterus and sometimes the cervix with supporting tissues. In the United States, hysterectomy is the most common non-pregnancy related surgery with one in every three women having it by age 60. You can stop your period through hysterectomy if you have not already reached menopause. This will be a form of surgical menopause, which means you will not be able to get pregnant after you have had hysterectomy.
9 Reasons for Hysterectomy
Your doctor usually recommends it only when other treatment options fail to provide desired results. Here are some of the most important reasons for why hysterectomy is necessary:
1. Heavy Periods
Some women experience extremely heavy periods and lose a considerably amount of blood every month. They may also have other symptoms such as stomach cramps and severe pain. These symptoms can affect the quality of life. If there is any underlying cause, like fibroids, your doctor will treat that to make your periods normal. If other treatments fail, you may consider having a hysterectomy to stop persistent heavy menstrual bleeding. Remember, you should choose this option when you no longer wish to have children.
2. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
One of many reasons for hysterectomy is PID, which refers to a bacterial infection of reproductive system in females. Antibiotics help when the infection is detected early, but if left untreated, it can damage the fallopian tubes and womb. This may cause serious pain that may go away only when you remove the women's fallopian tubes through a hysterectomy.
You develop this condition when cells that line the womb also grow into other areas of your body, including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, rectum, and bladder. The surrounding tissue becomes inflamed when these endometrial cells become trapped in different areas of the body. This causes symptoms such as severe pain, irregular and heavy periods, and infertility. There are other less invasive treatments as compared to hysterectomy that may help in this situation, so a hysterectomy is considered only when nothing else works.
Sometimes, you develop non-cancerous tumors made up of fibrous tissue in or around the uterus. This causes pelvic pain, heavy periods, pain during sex, and frequent urination or constipation. If you have large fibroids, you may consider having a hysterectomy.
You develop this condition when tissue in the womb grows within the muscular wall of the uterus. This extra tissue causes serious pain when you have your menstrual period. You should have a hysterectomy only when other treatments fail to cure adenomyosis and you do not wish to have children.
6. Prolapse of the Uterus
Sometimes, the ligaments and tissues that support the uterus become weak and fail to keep the uterus in its place. This produces symptoms such as a feel that something is coming out of your vagina, back pain, pain during sex, and urinary incontinence. A hysterectomy resolves the issue by completely removing the uterus, but you should opt for this procedure only when the ligaments and tissues are extremely weak and you do not want to have children in the future.
7. Postmenopausal Bleeding
Postmenopausal bleeding is one of the reasons for hysterectomy. Your doctor will examine you thoroughly to identify the cause of postmenopausal bleeding and may even ask for vaginal ultrasound to evaluate the endometrium of the uterus. They may recommend an endometrial biopsy if the endometrial thickness is at a certain level.
Endometrial polyps or uterine polyps refer to irregularities of the inner uterine lining. They are usually the reason why you have irregular bleeding. These are non-cancerous and are usually present at the opening of the cervix. In this case, they can be removed easily, but if you have endometrial polyps, you may have to go for a hysterectomy.
You may consider going for a hysterectomy when you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, or cancer of the fallopian tubes. Your doctor will recommend this procedure only if your cancer has reached an advanced stage.
Types of Hysterectomy That You May Have
Your surgeon may choose to remove a part of the uterus or remove it completely considering your reasons for hysterectomy.
- If you have a subtotal or supracervial hysterectomy, it means you are going to have the upper part of the uterus removed. The cervix will remain in place.
- If you have a total hysterectomy, it means the whole cervix and uterus will be removed.
- If you have a radical hysterectomy, it means your surgeon will remove your uterus and cervix as well as the tissue on the sides of the uterus and the top part of your vagina. This procedure is recommended only when you have cancer.
Are There Any Risks?
While you already know the reasons for hysterectomy, you should also have information about the risks involved in this procedure. Hysterectomy does not carry much risk and most women who have it done face no complications or problems. However, some women may have to deal with certain issues, including urinary incontinence, fistula formation, vaginal prolapse, and chronic pain. In rare cases, the procedure causes blood clots, wound infections, injury to surrounding organs, and hemorrhage.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Hysterectomy?
How long you have to stay in the hospital usually depends on the type of hysterectomy you have. The recovery time is different for laparoscopic, vaginal, and adnominal hysterectomy. Your hospital stay is usually between one and four days; however, it may take up to eight weeks when you have an abdominal hysterectomy. Most women usually resume their normal activities in a couple of weeks after laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy.