You didn’t think it could happen to you, but it did.
You went to the doctor only a few weeks ago to talk about the pain you were feeling in your pelvis. Hysterectomy treatment was considered, but the doctor needed to run a few more tests.
Three weeks later, you get the call from your doctor with the news: “Hi Darla, I need to tell you that your pelvic pain is due to your uterus slipping out of place. Please schedule an appointment to talk about hysterectomy options”.
Your head is spinning with questions: What is the surgical procedure? What are the alternatives to surgery? What is recovery like after having the surgery?
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about hysterectomies. I hope this will help put your mind at ease for a little bit and help you figure out your options moving forward.
Let’s start with defining what a hysterectomy is.
Defining a Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is defined as a surgical procedure that removes a woman’s uterus. After the surgery, a woman no longer has her menstrual period and loses the ability to become pregnant.
Don’t let a hysterectomy surgery scare or intimidate you. It’s one of the most common uterine surgeries for women in the United States.
Reasons for a Hysterectomy
There are different reasons why a woman may need a hysterectomy.
Here are the most common causes:
- Uterine Fibrosis: This condition occurs when noncancerous growths form on the uterine walls. It can cause discomfort or substantial bleeding for some women.
- Substantial or Abnormal Bleeding: Women can have this type of bleeding due to hormone level variation, infection, cancer, or uterine fibrosis.
- Uterine Prolapse: This condition happens when the uterus falls from its proper position into the vagina. Women who have had multiple natural births, gone through menopause, or are obese have a higher chance of having prolapse. This condition causes digestive problems and pelvic strain.
- Endometriosis: This condition arises when the uterine wall tissue begins to grow outside the uterus and on the ovaries. It causes extreme discomfort and bleeding between menstruation.
- Adenomyosis: This condition is like endometriosis: the uterine wall tissue grows outside the uterus. For this one, the uterus’ wall becomes dense and triggers extreme pain and substantial bleeding.
- Cancer: If a woman has cancer pertaining to her reproductive organs, hysterectomy is the best treatment option.
The different causes of hysterectomies determine the type of surgery you might select to have. You can also decide to do alternative treatment options, which I’ll talk about in a different section.
The Variety of Hysterectomies
The sort of hysterectomy you may receive depends on the reason for the surgery.
There are three types of hysterectomies:
- Total Hysterectomy: During this surgery, the entire uterus is removed. This includes the cervix and may also involve the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
- Partial Hysterectomy: During this surgery, only the top half of the uterus is removed and the cervix remains untouched. Depending on the condition, the ovaries may or may not also be removed.
- Radical Hysterectomy: During this surgery, the entire cervix, the matter on both sides of the cervix, and top half of the vagina are removed.
Recovery and Changes After a Hysterectomy
Even more importantly, be sure to talk about recovery and what changes you might experience after a major surgery with your physician.
Similar to other surgeries, the recovery will take time and patience. It’s more common to stay in the hospital one or two days after surgery for noncancerous reasons. If it’s cancer, expect to stay in the hospital longer.
Returning to your normal daily activities depends on the type of surgery:
- Stomach Surgery: A month to a month and a half to full recovery.
- Vaginal Surgery: At most a month to full recovery.
Life After a Hysterectomy
After the surgery, you the first things you can anticipate are relief from your symptoms and an improved life-quality.
Other changes you might not think of right away involve:
- Menopause: You will lose your menstrual period. If the surgeon removes your ovaries you might experience menopause signs.
- Sex Life and Desire: If the surgeon removes your ovaries, you might have more vaginal dryness or decrease interest in sex.
- Higher Chance for Other Health Conditions: If the surgeon removes your ovaries, you might have a higher chance of bone loss, heart disease, or urinary problems.
- Mental Health: You may feel a sense of depression or sadness after losing your uterus.
For some women, a hysterectomy might be necessary if they have severe bleeding or have cancer.
For others, there are other treatment options:
- Training: Kegel exercises help restore strength to the pelvic floor muscles and help keep the uterus in its proper place.
- Medication: If you have endometriosis, consult your physician about medications you can take. There might be over-the-counter medications you can
- Vaginal Pessary: This treatment is specific for uterine prolapse. A pessary is inserted into the vagina to keep the uterus in its proper place. A device is a round-shaped object made of plastic or rubber.
Do you Know Everything About a Hysterectomy?
I hope this article answered some of your top questions concerning a hysterectomy.
If any other questions arose while reading the article, please reach out to these resources: