7 Hysterectomy Myths to Stop Believing
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7 Hysterectomy Myths to Stop Believing

Let’s clear up some dirty rumors about hysterectomies. 

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By Rose Hayes

 

You might have heard hysterectomy stories from older female relatives that made your stomach flip. A hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus, or womb. It’s done for many conditions including uterine cancer and heavy bleeding.

 

Back in the day, a hysterectomy meant major surgery with big drawbacks. Modern medicine’s come a long way since then, but rumors about hysterectomies still cause many women to imagine the long recoveries and life-changing side effects of the past.

 

Here are 7 hysterectomy myths cleared up so you can stress less before surgery or simply spread the word to your female friends.

Myth: A hysterectomy will take away your womanhood

2 / 8 Myth: A hysterectomy will take away your womanhood

Fact: A hysterectomy won’t make you any less of a woman.

 

“There’s a strong identity associated with the uterus, so that women think removing it is going to change their life dramatically and they won’t be a true woman any more,” says David Forschner, MD an obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN) at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center.

 

It’s true that the uterus is an important part of the bodyit can carry a pregnancy and causes your period every monthbut removing it won't affect your hormones or change who you are, explains Dr. Forschner.

 

If you’re struggling emotionally because you can’t have children any more, reach out to a counselor or support group for help.

Myth: You’ll start menopause right after surgery

3 / 8 Myth: You’ll start menopause right after surgery

Fact: Unless your ovaries are removed, a hysterectomy won’t cause menopause.

 

“The ovaries can be removed at the same time as a hysterectomy, but often they’re left in place. You would only start menopause after a hysterectomy if we took both ovaries out,” explains Dr. Forschner.

 

Menopause happens when your periods have stopped for a year and your body makes much less of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. You won’t have periods any more after a hysterectomy, but your body should keep making sex hormones. Your hormones should start to drop around the same time or just a few years earlier than they normally would—for most women, that’s in their early 50’s. 

Myth: You won’t want to—or won’t be able to—get it on

4 / 8 Myth: You won’t want to—or won’t be able to—get it on

Fact: You’ll still be able to have sex and orgasms may feel even more incredible.

 

You might have heard the ugly rumor that a hysterectomy will kill your sex drive. But a hysterectomy should only affect your sex hormones if you also have surgery to take out your ovaries. Sex might feel a little different since you won’t have uterus contractions anymore. But you can still orgasm and many women say things feel better afterwards.

 

“Whatever led us to do the hysterectomy was probably making you uncomfortable during sex. After surgery, you’ll be able to appreciate how much better sex can be,” says Dr. Forschner. Plus, you may be more relaxed if pregnancy scares are a thing of the past.

Myth: It’s always a major surgery with a tough recovery

5 / 8 Myth: It’s always a major surgery with a tough recovery

Fact: There are different kinds of hysterectomies and most women have a speedy recovery.

 

The least risky type with the quickest recovery is a vaginal hysterectomy, says Forschner. It involves taking out your uterus through your vagina. You’ll spend the day and maybe one night in the hospital. Then it’s about two-to-four weeks for a full recovery.

 

The recovery time’s similar for a laparoscopic hysterectomy, where doctors make small cuts on your belly, then send a tiny camera and tools for surgery through them to remove your uterus.

 

Traditional, open surgery is less common, but does require more time in the hospital and recovery usually lasts about six weeks.

Myth: You’ll be trapped in bed for weeks

6 / 8 Myth: You’ll be trapped in bed for weeks

Fact: Moving around after surgery is better for your health.

 

After surgery, you may want to take it easy for a while. Instead, you’ll have doctors and nurses encouraging you to get out of bed that very same day.

 

“We tell women to not exert themselves too much,” says Dr. Forschner, “but we want you up and moving around the day of the surgery. Walking around will prevent blood clotsnot to mention it’ll improve your healing by getting good blood flow to your wounds.”

 

Just be sure to ask your nurse for help before getting out of bed, move nice and slowly at first and no heavy lifting.

Myth: A hysterectomy will make your vagina fall out

7 / 8 Myth: A hysterectomy will make your vagina fall out

Fact: It can actually treat or help prevent vaginal prolapse.

 

Vaginal prolapse is when the muscles and tissues around your vagina get weak or tear, causing your vagina to fall from its usual place. In some cases, the uterus may hang down out of the vagina’s opening. It can be caused by childbirth or menopause.

 

If your uterus falls, then prolapse can actually be the reason why you have a hysterectomy, says Forschner.

 

It’s possible to have a prolapse after a hysterectomy too, but surgeons now take extra steps to suspend, or tie up the vagina during surgery to keep that from happening.

Myth: A hysterectomy’s your only option

8 / 8 Myth: A hysterectomy’s your only option

Fact: You should ask the right questions and find out if there’s anything else you could try first.

 

If you’re told you need a hysterectomy, ask a bunch of questions so you can learn exactly why. Women with uterine cancer or dangerous bleeding probably need a hysterectomy right away. But in many cases, there are other options.

 

For example, if your uterus has prolapsed, or fallen down, physical therapy may be able to help. For other conditions, like endometriosis, your doctor might be able to suggest medications or other treatments.  

 

“Very rarely are there no alternatives,” says Forschner. “Removing the uterus should be the last resort in many cases.”

Gynecology

Gynecology

There are many key areas in the field of female reproductive system health, including menstruation, pregnancy, fertility, and menopause. As a woman, you may be concerned about other issues related to your sexual health, including ...

genital problems and sexually transmitted diseases. If you are a female that is sexually active, or over the age of 18, it is important to begin seeing a womans' health specialist in order to make sure that your reproductive system stays healthy. Before that, any concerns with menstruation should be addressed with a physician. As you get older, most women become concerned with issues pertaining to avoiding or achieving pregnancy, until menopause begins around age 50.
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