Perhaps, you have been booked to have a hysterectomy or your surgeon has hinted at it being an option of treatment for your symptoms, this blogpost answers some of the questions you might have.
If you have further questions, leave a comment down below.
WHAT IS AN ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY?
An abdominal hysterectomy is an invasive surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed, sometimes with the cervix, ovaries, ligaments and the fallopian tubes through a horizontal incision made in the lower abdomen which is 6 to 8 inches long.
The opening in the abdomen gives the surgeon easy access of the pelvic organs. In some cases, however, if the uterus is too large or bulky, a vertical incision may be made, providing the surgeon a greater access to the abdominal cavity.
WHY IS A HYSTERECTOMY PERFORMED?
There are various reasons why your doctor might have recommended a hysterectomy. Some of them are :
• Period problems such as heavy or irregular periods
• Suspected or proven cancer of the womb or cervix
•A larger than normal uterus
•Chronic uterine infection
•Severe pain associated with menopause
TYPES OF HYSTERECTOMY
There are three types of hysterectomy
Your surgeon will talk to you about the most appropriate and suitable type for you.
1. SUBTOTAL HYSTERECTOMY – In this, only the uterus is removed, the cervix (neck of the womb) is left in place.
There are several potential benefits of not taking out the cervix:
• The surgery is easier and quicker.
• The risk of damage to your bladder or ureters (tubes from your kidney to your bladder) during the operation is lower.
• The risk of you suffering a prolapse of the vagina in future is reduced.
• You will lose less blood during the surgery .
• You are likely to spend less time in hospital.
• You are less likely to develop a fever after your surgery.
There are, however, some possible disadvantages:
• You may still experience spotting every month – this occurs in about 6% of women
• The cervix is a potential site for cancer in the future and you will still need regular smears
2. TOTAL HYSTERECTOMY – Here, both the uterus and the cervix are removed.
3. TOTAL HYSTERECTOMY WITH BILATERAL SALPINGO-OOPHORECTOMY– The uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries are all removed.
Your surgeon will discuss with you the advantages and disadvantages of removing your ovaries or leaving them in.
FACTS TO KNOW IF YOU ARE HAVING A HYSTERECTOMY.
• You will not be able to get pregnant.
• You will no longer have monthly menstrual periods.
• You will no longer have to use contraceptives.
• It may be part of a continuing treatment or it may mean the end of a health problem.
The benefits of having a hysterectomy depend on the type and severity of symptoms that you are having. Heavy periods for example will be cured by a total hysterectomy. However, other problems like pelvic pain may not be improved or cured by hysterectomy.
Although hysterectomy is a relatively safe operation and serious side effects are not very common, it is still major surgery. You and your doctor must together weigh the benefits and risks of surgery while also giving consideration to alternative treatments.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have been advised on alternative treatments first, such as drugs or more minor surgery. The choice of treatment depends on the nature and extent of your condition as well as personal factors.