Hysterectomy: What is it and Why Might I Need One?

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A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed. Some women will also have their fallopian tubes and ovaries removed. This common surgical procedure is done for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons for a hysterectomy surgery include fibroids, uterine prolapse, persistent vaginal bleeding, endometriosis, cancer and chronic pelvic pain.

Fibroids

Fibroids that affect the uterus are responsible for the majority of all hysterectomies. Many women with uterine fibroids require no treatment and experience little to no symptoms. However, for some women these fibroid tumors can cause severe symptoms such as severe, chronic pelvic pain and heavy bleeding.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which the inner uterine lining begins to grow on the outside of the uterus, on the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, or on the other abdominal or pelvic organs. Many women are able to be treated with medication and another surgical procedure called a dilation and curettage. However, if these two methods fail a woman will often have a hysterectomy performed.

Uterine Prolapse

A uterine prolapse is a condition in which the uterus moves down into the vagina from its normal place. This can lead to a variety of problems such as pelvic pressure, urinary problems and trouble with bowel movements. To correct a uterine prolapse a hysterectomy is often performed.

Cancer

Cancers of the uterus, ovaries or cervix sometimes require a hysterectomy. Many patients are able to beat their cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, but some need an extra step. The extra step is a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy may also be performed to remove the organ that developed cancer to prevent that cancer from coming back.

Persistent Vaginal Bleeding

This reason for hysterectomy surgery is used as a last resort for women who experience heavy vaginal bleeding. Women who are good candidates include those who experience long, heavy menstrual periods and those with irregular menstrual periods. If medication and other medical treatment methods have failed, this surgical procedure may help to alleviate the woman’s bleeding and menstrual problems.

Chronic Pelvic Pain

If chronic pelvic pain is determined to be caused by the uterus and no medications or other medical treatments bring relief, a hysterectomy may be beneficial. However, many types of chronic pelvic pain will not be eliminated by a hysterectomy. If the chronic pelvic pain is not eliminated by this surgery, the surgery may become a permanent mistake because it will eliminate a woman’s ability to have children. This surgery should only be used in extreme cases where the uterus can be determined to be the absolute cause.

Resources

Women’s Health. (2006). Hysterectomy. Retrieved on September 25, 2009 from Website: https://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/hysterectomy.cfm