Roughly one in three women in the U.S. will have a hysterectomy before age 60. A doctor might recommend the procedure to fight cancer or even to relieve chronic pelvic pain. In any case, and at any age, it isn’t a decision to take lightly. Here are three facts to consider about hysterectomies.
1. You may not need one.
Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery in women, with 600,000 performed annually in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The procedure can be life saving in some women with gynecological cancers, such as uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer. But doctors may also recommend them for non-life-threatening conditions including fibroids, endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain and even abnormal bleeding. Stephen K. Montoya, MD, an OBGYN at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas, says that a hysterectomy might be warranted if these problems affect a person’s lifestyle. But it’s important to talk to your doctor about all your options before undergoing surgery that may not be medically necessary.
2. There are different types you should know about.
Edmond Pack, MD, an OBGYN at Southern Hills Hospital in Las Vegas, says it’s important to talk to your doctor about the way in which the hysterectomy will be done. Types of hysterectomy include partial, total and radical. Surgical technique may be traditional or minimally invasive (in which the procedure is performed through small incisions instead of one large opening). Learn the details of the surgery your doctor recommends for you -- and if you have other options -- so you’re fully informed going into the procedure.
3. You may not need your ovaries removed.
The younger you are, the less likely your doctor is to recommend having your ovaries removed. Research suggests that the reduced risk of ovarian cancer may be outweighed by other health risks incurred from removing the ovaries, particularly at an early age. However, some doctors advise removal of the ovaries for women who are nearing or past menopause. For women nearing menopause, suddenly not having ovaries means experiencing the symptoms of menopause (hello, hot flashes!) right after surgery. Hormone replacement therapy can help; just be sure you’ve talked to your doctor about the risks and benefits.