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10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You about Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is one of the most common surgeries performed on women, but not all are told absolutely everything about this surgery. So, here are some facts that will help you in making an informed decision about hysterectomy.

Women's Health By Ariba Khaliq / Aug 29, 2014

Hysterectomy Surgery

As soon as you hear the word “hysterectomy” from your doctor’s mouth, prepare your list of questions which would involve its effects on your sex life, hormones, and your future. Before you agree to undergo it, it is always better to make an informed decision. The gynaecologists don’t really touch upon some critical and sensitive topics while explaining about the surgery, which involves removal of your uterus and sometimes cervix in order to treat fibroids (noncancerous tumours), excessively heavy periods, or uterine prolapse (a dropped uterus). Here is what you need to know.

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Your Sex Life isn’t Finished

The type of hysterectomy decides how soon you can have sex after it. If your cervix wasn’t required to be removed, you can usually resume physical intimacy after two to four weeks. However, it is a good idea to give the vagina its required six weeks to heal in case your cervix was removed. When your doctor tells you about sex, they are referring to vaginal intercourse, orgasm, oral sex, and vibrator use as well. However, it is always helpful to ask specific questions to know what sexual activities are harmless.

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Hysterectomy doesn’t Cure Endometriosis

The Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states this fact clearly that hysterectomy isn’t a cure for endometriosis (an illness marked by severe menstrual cramps, chronic pain, and painful intercourse). The treatment line for this condition includes pain relievers and hormone therapies but not hysterectomy. A minimal invasive surgery that preserves the uterus can still be considered but if your doctor prescribes hysterectomy with the removal of ovaries for endometriosis, run the opposite way.

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Menopause wouldn’t Necessarily Follow

It is a common myth among women that hysterectomy is followed by hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats, which are all symptoms of menopause. While getting a hysterectomy does mean that your uterus will be removed and you won’t be able to conceive after it, it doesn’t necessarily mean menopause.  The timing of natural menopause will only be affected if your ovaries were removed during the hysterectomy and not if only the uterus was.

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Ovaries may be Included in Hysterectomy

It may be required at the time of the hysterectomy surgery that one or both of your ovaries and fallopian tubes be removed in additionthe to  uterus. Ovaries are essential for a woman’s sexual and bone health because they produce two important female hormones called oestrogen and progesterone. If you lose both your ovaries, you will end up losing these two hormones in your body, a condition known as surgical menopause.

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Hormone Therapies are Helpful after Hysterectomy

If hysterectomy involved removing of your ovaries, oestrogen therapy can help you deal with the symptoms of menopause that follow. However, you should discuss oral hormone therapy in detail with your doctor because it can increase the risk of you getting a stroke, blood clots like deep vein thrombosis, and heart disease.

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Hysterectomy can be Prevented

It is possible to keep your uterus intact, but this depends on the condition you are in. You won’t believe but there can be other lines of treatment options available in 90 percent of the performed hysterectomy cases. For example, you wouldn’t need it in case of fibroids for they can be treated with a nonsurgical procedure called uterine artery embolization, which involves cutting off the fibroids’ blood supply. Myomectomy (removing fibroids but sparing the uterus) can also be performed in case of fibroids. In case you are suffering from heavy bleeding, it can be treated with an ablation procedure; it freezes and burns the uterine line. So, before accepting your doctor’s prescription of hysterectomy, ask him/her for other possible options for your problem.

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You could Go for Less Invasive Surgery

Laparoscopic or robotic-assisted hysterectomy is a minimally invasive form of hysterectomy. This is a new technology and marks small incisions, causes less blood loss, and requires shorter hospital stays, unlike the traditional hysterectomy. In about 45 percent cases of hysterectomy, a laparoscopic surgery can be opted for, however it is not offered by all gynaecologists. It also extends benefits like a quick recovery and fewer complications. You should consult a doctor who does a lot of laparoscopic surgeries and would be more than willing to offer it to you in case it fits your condition.

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There are Pros and Cons to Morcellation Process

Morcellation is a process of cutting the uterus into small sections to be able to remove it during a minimally invasive surgery. Though morcellation doesn’t cause cancer, it can potentially spread an existing tumour in the person’s body. This is an extremely rare cancer form and a published report found only 27 out of 10, 000 women are likely to be at risk of it. Before undergoing the surgery, you must give an informed consent.

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Hysterectomy might Prevent Certain Cancers

Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene defects are at a very high (about 45 to 60 percent) risk of developing ovarian cancer, says the National Cancer Institute. Only 1 percent of women without this gene defect get this cancer. Studies found that having a preventive surgery known as prophylactic oophorectomy can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 80 percent. This procedure involves removal of both the ovaries and can be done solely or along with hysterectomy.

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Psychological Healing Takes Time

Some women may feel emotional trauma much longer than their physical effects after getting a hysterectomy done. The surgery may provoke a feeling of lowness or a sense of loss. But in some women, it may also result in postoperative stress which will need professional help to deal with its symptoms like insomnia, loss of appetite, or hopelessness.

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