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Before You Have A Hysterectomy

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Updated November 04, 2009

Are you facing a hysterectomy? Learn the facts about hysterectomy and alternatives before you decide whether hysterectomy is the right choice for you. It is critical to understand when hysterectomy is elective surgery and when it is necessary to save your life. Although hysterectomy may provide relief from your condition, it's important to explore all alternatives before you choose hysterectomy.

Reasons For Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is not optional for some conditions. These conditions include invasive cancers of the female reproductive system; severe infections, such as PID, that are unresponsive to treatment; severe hemmorhaging; or rupture of the uterus. Other conditions that may be helped by hysterectomy include uterine prolapse, endometriosis, fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, or certain cases of hyperplasia.

Female Reproductive Organs Removed During Hysterectomy

A subtotal hysterectomy is the only hysterectomy that removes only the uterus. In a simple or total hysterectomy only the uterus and cervix are removed. A hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo- oophorectomy or radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A supracervical hysterectomy leaves only the cervix intact, an option for women who have never had a bad Pap.

Hysterectomy Alternatives

Most physicians are trained to see the uterus of little value other than for the purpose of childbirth. The sad fact is that 90 percent of the over 500,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States are classified by insurance companies as elective. If your physician has recommended a hysterectomy for a non life-threatening condition, you owe it to yourself to explore your alternatives.

Surgical Menopause

Having both ovaries removed during hysterectomy causes an instant and, in many cases, intense onset of menopausal symptoms. Surgical menopause often causes more severe symptoms of menopause including more severe, frequent, and longer-lasting hot flashes than those whose menopause is natural. It's important to explore your options in hormone replacement before you have a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy Recovery

Pain and fatigue are normal parts of recovering from a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy recovery takes from four to eight weeks. Sexual intercourse should not be resumed until you are told it is safe. You should not do any lifting, pushing or pulling; this includes lifting babies or children. Even if you are feeling better you should not attempt strenuous activities for the full recovery period.

Hysterectomy Support Groups

One of the best ways to find answers and support when making a decision about whether to have a hysterectomy or try an alternative procedure is to talk with other women with similar experiences. The Voices of Hysterectomy Forum is a great place to find answers in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. Talking with family members who have had a hysterectomy may provide useful insight, as well.

Sex After Hysterectomy

Removal of both the uterus and ovaries causes a rapid decline in sex hormones. Some women miss the uterine contractions that occur during orgasm. Removal of the cervix may cause a change in the way that penetration is experienced. Vaginal dryness often improves with the use of hormones or vaginal lubricants. Many women find their sex lives greatly improved after a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy's Potential Long Term Health Consequences

Because hysterectomy has long term effects on a woman's health, longevity, and sexuality it is imperative that women understand these potential consequences. Women who have undergone hysterectomy may have a greater risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, and may be more likely to become depressed. They may also experience low libido, inability to orgasm, or other sexual dysfunctions.
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