• What Is A Hysterectomy?
|What Is A Hysterectomy?
It is a surgery to remove a woman's womb (uterus). The uterus is where a baby grows during pregnancy. When it is removed a woman can no longer become pregnant and her menstrual periods stop. About 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year in the United States (75,000 in the UK), making it the second most frequently performed surgery (after cesarean sections). In fact it is estimated that nearly one in three American women will have their womb removed by the time they reach the age of 60. The frequency at which the operation is performed has lead to considerable debate and there is growing concern that many hysterectomies performed are in fact unjustified. One recent large-scale study found that 15 percent may be unnecessary. For this reason, if you have been recommended a hysterectomy, it is always worth getting a second opinion. Research also shows that the age of your practitioner influences your chance of being recommended the surgery. Women are less likely to be told they need surgery if their gynecologist (he if she) is recently trained, than if he (tends to be male) is older and in practice longer.
Yes, although all surgeries involve the removal of the uterus. The different types are:
Supracervical (also called partial or subtotal) hysterectomy: Just the uterus is removed. Women who have never had an abnormal Pap test result may be candidates for this procedure as it indicates the cervix is healthy. Some doctors think this procedure is less likely to cause sexual complications later.
The top 3 reasons are:
The hysterectomy procedure can be performed using a number of different methods. But basically all methods involve removing the womb either through the tummy or through the vagina. The choice of procedure will depend on your overall health, what you need to have removed and your surgeon's individual preference and experience.
Hysterectomy recovery: Most women stay in hospital for 1 to 3 days for a vaginal procedure and up to 5 days for an abdominal operation. The stay can be longer for women recovering from cancer-related surgery. There may be some soreness around the tummy if you had an abdominal hysterectomy. You should be up and walking around by day 3, and gradually over 3 to 4 weeks you can resume normal activities like driving, exercising and working. The recovery is usually slightly faster after a vaginal hysterectomy. Most doctors advise waiting 6-8 weeks before resuming sexual activities.
Hysterectomy complications: Although a hysterectomy is considered a safe operation, it is still a major surgery and as such carries risks. These include:
Hysterectomy side effects: All women who undergo the procedure will:
By playing an active role in the decision process and questioning the wisdom of your doctor's verdict. If you have been advised by your doctor to undergo this surgery, it is important to ask him to discuss alternative options as well. You need to be sure they have been fully explored. If he still recommends surgery, be sure to fully discuss the possible side effects. Also if an abdominal procedure is suggested, ask why you cannot have a vaginal hysterectomy. A vaginal surgery is always preferred because it leaves no visible scar and the healing time is faster. It may not be possible if you have large fibroids which need removing. If the surgeon says you need to have both your ovaries removed, ask why and is it not possible to preserve at least one (this is important if you still wish to have children). If you are not satisfied with the answers, seek a second opinion. Your health insurance company may require this anyway.
There are some clear-cut cases where a hysterectomy is definitely necessary, for example where a woman has invasive cancer or as a last resort for severe infections. In other instances the case is less clear cut, for example in the instance of large fibroids which are pressuring down on nearby organs and have not responded to hormone therapy. Or where endometriosis symptoms are severe and disabling. These are non-life threatening conditions may still be controlled by alternatives to hysterectomy (such as uterine artery embolization, endometrial ablation or hormone therapy) until you reach menopause - at which point most of these conditions clear on their own. This is particularly important for premenopausal women who still hope to have children. A hysterectomy should never be undertaken for ovarian cysts, irregular periods, menstrual cramps, uterine polyps or pelvic pain until all lower-risk alternatives have been exhausted.
No, not if your cervix was removed. However you should still have a regular pelvic exam and mammogram to test for breast cancer. If the cervix was not removed or your hysterectomy was for cancer, you will need to keep having your regular Pap tests. For more health questions on this and other topics see, female health questions.
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