We all know that surgeries can be necessary for even life-saving — yet, there are other times the reason to go under the knife is made a little too lightly, resulting in surgery performed when it doesn’t need to be. While cancer, cysts, or problems with menstruation are all probable reasons for a hysteroctomy (removal of the uterus), studies have shown that this procedure is performed far too many times.
Wayne State University and the University of Michigan conducted a study on over 3,400 women who had hysterectomies. They found that 1 in 5 of these women had surgery for conditions such as endometriosis and fibroids — benign conditions that usually do not require a hysterectomy for treatment. They also found that 2 out of 5 women who had hysterectomies before they turned 40 were unnecessary. Also, more than 40% of the women in the study were not advised of alternative treatments before undergoing the knife.
Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery in reproductive-aged women — data shows that 1 in 3 women will have their uterus removed before they turn 60.
The hysterectomy is a major surgery and brings about a lot of change in a woman’s life: along with the inability to conceive, hormonal issues can arise due to the early cessation of the menstrual cycle. It is a surgery that should not be performed unless it is absolutely necessary and in many cases it is done anyway.
Common Questions You Should Ask Before Your Hysterectomy
Exactly what is causing my pain? Sometimes, the reason will not be entirely clear to the doctor and if time and your insurance allows more research to be done, you should investigate it.
Are there are other tests that can be done to make the diagnosis more apparent? The decision whether to have these tests or not should be yours and should be balanced with the side effects and cost of the tests.
What are the consequences to my health if you do not have surgery, either at all, or at this time? For non life-threatening problems, one option is always to do nothing. However, doing nothing often means more frequent visits to your doctor to monitor your problem.
What non-surgical alternative therapies to hysterectomy are available? For a vast number of conditions, there are usually alternatives of varying degrees of effectiveness. For instance, an intrauterine device (IUD) can help with abnormal bleeding and hormonal control.
What is your experience doing the operation that has been proposed? Of course there will be referrals to a specialist or a team of specialists to do your procedure. Knowing the expertise of anyone who will potentially lead your surgery is important.
Whatever you decide, your main goal is to be informed: Stay in constant communication with your doctor and know all your options.