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Why Are Hysterectomies Often Unnecessary?

The United States has the highest rate of hysterectomy in world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgical procedure (after cesarean section) for women in the United States. Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies performed each year in the United States. It is estimated that 85% to 90% of all hysterectomies are unnecessary so it is important for women to get a second opinion preferably from a naturopathic or integrative medicine physician and do some research on alternative options before they proceed with a hysterectomy. Studies show that many hysterectomies performed in the United States are not medically necessary, evidenced by the fact that today, most of hysterectomies are performed electively. The National Women's Health Network (NWHN) believes that unnecessary hysterectomies have put women at risk needlessly, and that health care providers should recognize the value of a woman's reproductive organs beyond their reproductive capacity and search for hysterectomy alternatives before resorting to life-changing operations.

Doctors often fail to tell patients the truth about risks and adverse effects of hysterectomy and how many hysterectomies are actually unnecessary. Many doctors choose to not tell patients about hysterectomy alternatives because they make much more money from performing hysterectomies. Gynecologists, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies make more than $17 Billion dollars a year from hysterectomies.

When is hysterectomy medically necessary?

Hysterectomy may be a medically necessary intervention in the case of several life-threatening conditions:

  • Invasive cancer of the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries

  • Unmanageable infection

  • Unmanageable bleeding

  • Serious complications during childbirth, such as a rupture of the uterus

For other conditions, it is important to evaluate all options before resorting to hysterectomy. You should research hysterectomy alternatives and talk to your doctor about watchful waiting. If your condition is not causing problematic symptoms, you may want to closely observe your symptoms without initiating active treatment.

Conditions That Have Hysterectomy Alternatives:

  • Fibroids - There are many treatment options for shrinking or removing uterine fibroids without removing reproductive organs. These include using antiestrogen drugs, uterine artery embolization (UAE), laser ablation of uterine fibroids, cryosurgery, and myomectomy. For more information on fibroids, click here. Make sure you research the bad adverse effects that can happen as a result of uterine artery embolization (UAE) before you consider this procedure.

  • Cancer - Hysterectomy is often necessary and life preserving when invasive cancer is diagnosed, however, hysterectomy is frequently recommended when cancer is neither invasive nor life threatening. For pre-cancerous cells, there are a few options that you and your health care provider should discuss. Loop Electrosurgical Excisional Procedure (LEEP) can be used to remove pre-cancerous cells, and cryosurgery can be used to treat non-cancerous growths and abnormal tissue. For early invasive cervical cancer that has not spread to other regions, a radical trachelectomy (the removal of cervix or the neck of the uterus) can be performed in lieu of a total hysterectomy.

  • Excessive Endometrial Lining - Endometrial ablation can be used to remove excess endometrial lining. Dilation and Curettage (D&C) can also be used to remove the lining or abnormal tissue.

  • Endometriosis - Operative laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that can generally be done on an outpatient basis to remove endometrial growths and adhesions. Pain medication, hormone therapy and other conservative surgical procedures can also be used to control any discomfort associated with endometriosis.


  • Uterine Prolapse - According to MedlinePlus, an information service of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) a vaginal pessary (an object inserted into the vagina to hold the uterus in place) can be used as a temporary or permanent form of treatment for a prolapsed uterus (MedlinePlus). Vaginal pessaries are available in many shapes and sizes and must be individually fitted. A surgical procedure called a 'suspension operation' can also be performed to lift and reattach a descended uterus, and often a fallen bladder or rectum as well. Health practitioners suggest that Kegel exercises can be a powerful prevention and treatment tool for strengthening uterine muscles and avoiding prolapse.

(Source: National Women's Health Network - Hysterectomy)

 

What are most common consequences of hysterectomy?

• surgical complications such as infection, bladder perforation, hemorrhage during or following surgery and/or damage to internal organs such as the urinary tract or bowel

• heart disease

• loss of sexual desire, arousal, sensation

• weight gain

• osteoporosis

• bone, joint and muscle pain and immobility

• painful intercourse, vaginal damage

• displacement of bladder, bowel, and other pelvic organs

• urinary tract infections, frequency, incontinence

• chronic constipation and digestive disorders

• debilitating fatigue

• loss of stamina

• altered body odor

• loss of short-term memory

• blunting of emotions, personality changes, despondency, irritability, anger, reclusiveness and suicidal thinking

Other Important Resources to Check Out:

Facts about Hysterectomy

Adverse Effects Data for Hysterectomy - HERS Foundation

Hysterectomy Lies blog

Hysterectomy Consequences

Can Hysterectomy Hurt Sex Lives? – 20/20

An Overview of Hysterectomy

When Is a Hysterectomy Necessary?

We strongly recommend that all women considering hysterectomy take time to research information on the web site of HERS Foundation. They have many excellent resources about hysterectomy alternatives and after effects. This organization has helped many women to avoid hysterectomies.

If you must have a hysterectomy and you are concerned about your modesty during the surgery, check out Concerns About Modesty During Hysterectomy.


Other Related Articles:

How is Female Urinary Catheterizations Done?

Concerns About Modesty During Hysterectomy

Tips For OB/Gyn Patients

Female Patient Modesty

Sources:

National Women's Health Network - Hysterectomy

Progesterone Research Network - Hysterectomies: What You Need to Know

HERS Foundation

Facts about Hysterectomy - HERS Foundation

 

 
     
   
 
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