What types of problems lead to a woman having a hysterectomy?
Gynecologic problems such as fibroids (benign uterus tumors that can cause persistent bleeding, anemia and pain), endometriosis, gynecologic cancer, uterine prolapse, abnormal vaginal bleeding and chronic pelvic pain are often complaints that can lead to surgical interventions such as a hysterectomy. However, your gynecologist will want to try medications and less invasive procedures first.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy includes removal of organs that are part of a woman’s reproductive system. This usually includes removal of the cervix and uterus; one or both ovaries and the fallopian tubes also may be removed.
How do I know what type of hysterectomy is best for me?
Physicians will discuss the different forms of hysterectomy with their patients. The type of surgery will depend on many factors. Uterine size, prior abdominal or uterine surgery such as caesarean sections and patient size are just a few of those factors. The different types of hysterectomy are vaginal, laparoscopic, robotic (a type of laparoscopic) and abdominal.
What are the risks associated with hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy risks are similar to any surgery. There is increased risk of blood loss or blood clots, infection, and reactions to anesthesia. There also is a risk of injury to other pelvic and abdominal organs; this risk is greater if there are large fibroids, tumors or severe endometriosis, which can obstruct the surgeon’s view and make the procedure more difficult to perform. Women who are obese or who have diabetes or high blood pressure are at higher risk.
What can I expect following a hysterectomy?
Most women say they enjoy life more because they no longer experience symptoms such as chronic bleeding or pelvic pain. You will have some discomfort in the weeks immediately following surgery. Bloody vaginal discharge and some pain or discoAnsmfort is normal for several days following surgery. You will no longer have your monthly menstrual cycle or be able to become pregnant. If your ovaries were not removed, you will produce hormones and eggs until you reach menopause. But if the ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed with your uterus, menopause will begin following the surgery. Your physician can prescribe medications to help treat the symptoms of menopause.
(Christopher Danielson, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist Sanford Obstetrics and Gynecology located within the Seventh and Rosser Clinic in Bismarck. He also specializes in laparoscopic surgery and minimally invasive surgery. A graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks, Danielson completed his residency at Synergy Medical Education Alliance in Saginaw, Mich.)