Do you have questions about hysterectomies? Learn about this surgery, types of hysterectomies, why women choose to have this surgery, and the possible side effects that come with it. Today’s guest blogger answers all your hysterectomy questions.
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy, which is the surgical removable of a woman’s uterus, is the second most common surgery that American women have. (The most common being cesarean sections). You can have a partial or total hysterectomy. Sometimes, your surgeon will also remove your ovaries and fallopian tubes.
There are three types of hysterectomies:
- Partial hysterectomy – Only the upper part of the uterus (womb) is removed.
- Total hysterectomy – Everything is removed. Both the uterus and cervix (opening of the uterus) are taken out.
- Radical hysterectomy – The whole uterus, the upper part of your vagina, and the tissue on both sides of the cervix are removed. This type of hysterectomy is typically performed if there is cancer.
After a hysterectomy, you do not have menstrual periods and it is not possible for you to become pregnant. If your ovaries are removed during the surgery, you will enter menopause. If you keep your ovaries, you will probably experience menopause earlier than normal.
Why Have a Hysterectomy?
The charge is often laid that more hysterectomies than are strictly required tend to be performed. Sometimes, the doctor recommends a hysterectomy out of precaution. Other times, this surgery is performed for relatively benign conditions.
Usually a hysterectomy is to be considered only in severe cases where there is severe pelvic pain, or incontinence, prolapse of the uterus (the uterus falls into the vagina), severe endometriosis, excessive or abnormal menstrual bleeding, and difficulty with sexual intimacy, large fibroids and other gynecological conditions.
A hysterectomy is also one of the best treatment options if you have uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, or cancer of the endometrium. If you have any of these reproductive cancers, you may also need chemotherapy and radiation to beat the disease.
What are the Side Effects of a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy should be considered only when there is real need and the benefits outweigh the possible risks and the side effects of this surgery. If your doctor recommends a hysterectomy, talk about the side effects, other options, and why he or she believes that a hysterectomy is the best option.
Common side effects of a hysterectomy include:
- Firstly it has to be understood that a hysterectomy is a fairly major type of surgery and carries with it all the risks associated with surgery – risk of infection, healing problems, time required for recovery, pain from the stitches and so on should be considered.
- Women most often suffer decrease in sexual drive, and that vaginal lubrication is reduced or eliminated altogether, so this surgery can impact sexuality and intimacy very negatively. When the uterus is removed, so is the ability of a woman to reach a uterine orgasm; and sex could become painful and even repugnant for some women.
- Since very significant hormonal changes take place after a hysterectomy, this can have serious impacts on blood circulation and the heart as well, according to some experts.
- As many as 10 to 20 years after this surgery, problems such as vaginal prolapse and urinary incontinence could develop. There is loss of support for the bowel and the bladder and consequently problems relating to incontinence can develop.
- The risk of vaginal prolapse is also increased due to this surgery because when the hysterectomy is performed other organs shift and realign themselves within the pelvic cavity.
- Hysterectomy is often referred to as surgical menopause and can have many of the same symptoms as menopause. Among them is developing problems such as joint pain, osteoporosis (brittle bones), muscle pain, reduced mobility, etc.
- Some women also experience problems relating to digestion after a hysterectomy – recurring constipation and other problems may occur.
- Feelings of tiredness and exhaustion may also frequently manifest themselves.
- Hot flashes are also commonly seen after a surgical removal of the uterus because of the change that a woman’s hormones will inevitably endure.
- Sleep disturbances and night sweats are also commonly noted post surgery.
- Weight gain and fat redistribution is another hysterectomy side effect.
- Some other menopause related problems such as memory problems, problems relating to concentration can also occur after a hysterectomy. Women may also find that they suffer anxiety, mood swings, irritability, a tendency to shun society, feelings of anger and even suicide.
Since the side effects of a hysterectomy can so often be fairly drastic and may also lead to other complications, it is important to try and preserve the female reproductive organs as far as possible and not view them only as reproductive organs.
They are part of the female body and contribute to its working in many different ways other than just nurturing and producing babies, and the pros and cons of the surgery have to be very seriously considered.
Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger.
Linda Albert is a writer for WomenHealthZone.com, a blog that specializes in womens health. The blog covers women’s topics, including PMS, reproductive health, infertility, birth control, breast cancer, fibroids, diabetes, obesity, and other related health concerns.