A hysterectomy is basically the removal of the uterus but may also include the cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The decision over which parts to remove is based on the condition the woman is suffering from.
Hysterectomy and Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are described as benign tumors that can cause severe bleeding. These tumors grow inside the uterus, on its surface or between its walls. Fibroids are the most common cause of hysterectomies in the USA, accounting for roughly 30% of these surgeries. Fibroids cause a wide range of pelvic problems including chronic pain, excessive unpredictable bleeding, and pelvic pressure that may result in fecal and urinary incontinence. The tumors vary from pea size to grapefruit size and a woman frequently has multiple fibroids. A hysterectomy will only be performed if the uterus is riddled with tumors and the woman is suffering from profuse bleeding and chronic pain.
Hysterectomy and Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition whereby uterine tissue plants itself outside of the uterus in the pelvic area and causes pain, infertility, irregular bleeding, bloating, fatigue and scarring. It is the second most common cause of hysterectomies, accounting for approximately 19% annually. Endometriosis is diagnosed as mild, moderate or severe and may initially be treated with birth control pills or hormonal treatments. If a woman is past child bearing age or has completed her family, a hysterectomy is often suggested when symptoms are severe and do not respond to other treatments.
Hysterectomy and Uterine Prolapse
This condition occurs when the uterus drops from its normal position and protrudes through the vagina. It is caused by the weakening and loosening of the ligaments that hold the uterus in place and in some cases may include the bladder. Multiple births, age, weight and genetic history are all factors that may affect the extent of uterine prolapse. This is a condition that cannot be left untreated and the only permanent cure is a hysterectomy. Uterine prolapse accounts for 16% of the hysterectomies performed in the United States each year.
Hysterectomy and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) refers to chromic infections in the pelvic area. A hysterectomy may be performed if PID has been left untreated and there is extensive scarring and inflammation throughout the pelvic area. PID can affect the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus and often causes infertility. PID is characterized by vaginal discharge, bleeding, lower abdominal pain and fever. While many women can be successfully treated with antibiotics, others will require a hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy is often a last resort treatment for women experiencing uterine problems. Before a surgeon considers a hysterectomy, he will often try medication or less invasive forms of surgery. A hysterectomy can bring complete relief to the problems caused by fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and PID and should be considered as a viable option if recommended by a doctor.
100 Questions and Answers about Hysterectomy , Delthia Ricks and Lloyd B Greig, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2007