Many women come in thinking they need a hysterectomy, only to discover that it’s often not necessary. We take the time to evaluate you as a whole person, working with you to address any underlying health disorders, without surgery whenever possible. If a hysterectomy is necessary, there are several different options to explore.
- Total hysterectomy - that preserves your ovaries. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to keep your ovaries to help protect your heart and maintain healthy hormone levels.
- Partial or supracervical hysterectomy - which allows you to keep your cervix (the bottom part of your uterus).
- Laparoscopic (vaginal) hysterectomy - Depending on your needs and condition, it is sometimes possible to remove your uterus vaginally. It is less invasive, and usually means only a day in the hospital, with a faster recovery time.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a woman’s womb (uterus). Hysterectomies are the one of the most common surgeries performed on women, second only to Caesarian sections (C-section). Depending on the reason for the procedure, the cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries may also be removed.
In a “traditional” hysterectomy, the cervix and uterus are removed; the fallopian tubes and ovaries may, or may not be removed, depending on the reason behind the hysterectomy.
A woman may require a hysterectomy in order to stop excessive bleeding, to remove a fibroid. A fibroid is usually non-cancerous and can range widely in size. Some are extremely small (the size of a pea) to extremely large (the size of a grapefruit or larger). Other common reasons include endometriosis, which often causes pelvic pain and can cause infertility, pelvic support disorders (where the uterus drops from its normal position), trauma, and cancer.
The cervix is a narrow passageway that forms the lower end of the uterus, allowing passage from the vagina into the uterus. The cervix is very muscular, providing stability and support for both the vagina and the uterus. Because of its role, some surgeons believe that preserving the cervix may help to reduce the chances of developing stress urinary incontinence (unintentional urination). Some studies have indicated that the cervix may also aid in sexual arousal and the ability to achieve climax and orgasm.
Ovaries produce and release eggs (a single egg is released at the midpoint of a women’s cycle each month). Ovaries also secrete hormones such as progesterone and estrogen. If the ovaries are removed, menopause begins. The symptoms of menopause may include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, depression, mood swings, and irritability.
If the ovaries are preserved instead of removed, there is no bleeding however the egg is still released and hormone levels are unaffected. Menopause increases the risk for osteoporosis, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. HRT, or hormone replacement therapy, may be necessary if the ovaries are removed.
Every surgical procedure involves some degree of risk. There is the possibility of complications, such as infections, blood loss, and damage to other organs such as the bladder. Complications such as incontinence (an inability to control urine), incomplete emptying of the bladder, or damage to the bowels are rare, but possible. Anesthesia may also cause temporary complications such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and or headaches.
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