A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus (womb). Different portions of the uterus and other organs, can be removed in this surgery.
Hysterectomy is a treatment option that can help address symptoms affecting a women’s physical as well as emotional health. In some cases, a hysterectomy can be a life-saving treatment, for instance if you have cancer of the uterus or ovaries, or hemorrhage (uncontrollable bleeding) of the uterus, this surgery could save your life.
For better understanding what hysterectomy is let’s start with the basics:
The function of the uterus is to cradle and nourish a fetus from conception to birth, and to aids in the delivery of the baby. The uterus is also responsible of the monthly menstrual flow (period).
The first function of the ovaries is the production of eggs, which allows childbearing. The second is the production of hormones or substances that regulate menstruation. These hormones are essential to a women’s health: stress, sexual libido, energy, and other factors can be greatly affected upon the production of these hormones.
If the egg released during the women’s cycle is not fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds by bleeding (menstruation).
Once a woman undergoes a hysterectomy, menstruation stops and the women can no longer have children. The ovaries could continue to produce hormones; however they may have reduced activity.
As stated before, some types of hysterectomies also include the removal of the ovaries, so the supply of essential female hormones is greatly reduced. This can have various effects which we will discuss later.
The following are some types of hysterectomies:
This type of hysterectomy Includes the removal of the entire uterus, including the fundus (the part of the uterus above the openings of the fallopian tubes) and the cervix, but not the ovaries. This is the most common type of hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy
This type of hysterectomy includes the removal of one or both ovaries, and sometimes the fallopian tubes, along with the uterus.
Supracervical hysterectomy (partial or subtotal hysterectomy)
This type of hysterectomy is the Removal of the body of the uterus while leaving the cervix intact.
This type of hysterectomy includes the removal of the uterus, cervix, the top portion of the vagina, most of the tissue that surrounds the cervix in the pelvic cavity, and may include the removal of the pelvic lymph nodes. This is done in some cases of cancer.
Most common reasons for having a hysterectomy
Approximately 10 percent of hysterectomies are performed to treat cancer – either cervical, ovarian, or endometrial.
Endometrial cells sometimes grow outside of the uterus, attach themselves to other organs in the pelvic cavity, and bleed each month in accordance with an ovarian cycle. This can result in chronic pelvic pain, pain during sex, and prolonged or heavy bleeding.
Non-malignant tumors may grow and become large, causing pressure on other organs and possibly heavy bleeding or pelvic pain.
A cause of abnormal bleeding, this over-thickening of the uterine lining is often due to the presence of very high levels of estrogen.
Blockage of the bladder or intestines
A hysterectomy may be performed if there is a blockage of the bladder or intestines by the uterus or a growth.
- There can be other ways of treating or dealing with these medical conditions, some women try many alternatives before they decide to go for a hysterectomy. It is very important that the woman and her physician examine all the different alternatives as well as consequences of the choices, so that she can decide what is better for her.
How a hysterectomy is Perform
During a conventional hysterectomy an incision approximately five inches long is made in the abdominal wall, the muscles are stretched apart, and the uterus removed through the incision. During an MIP hysterectomy, three or four dime-sized incisions are made instead of one larger incision.
There may be other ways of treating or dealing with these problems. Together with your doctor you should weigh all the alternatives and effects of the different choices to help you decide what is right for you.
Important Questions to ask a physician when a hysterectomy is recommended:
The following is a list of questions for women to take to their physicians when the possibility of a hysterectomy is present, the answer to this list can help women understand their specific need for the surgery, the procedure, as well as the consequences, so that they may take a better decision if alternatives are possible. This list is provided by the New York department of health, in their website:
- Why do I need to have a hysterectomy?
- What organ or organs will be removed and why?
- Will my ovaries be left in place? If not, why?
- Will my cervix be removed? If so, why?
- Are there alternatives for me besides a hysterectomy?
- What are the advantages, risks, benefits of each?
- What will be the physical effects of a hysterectomy?
- Are these permanent?
- What will happen to my figure, my weight, my breasts?
- How will it affect my sex life?
- Will I experience menopause (change of life)? Can the symptoms of menopause be treated? What are the risks and benefits of such treatment?
- Will the operation be a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy? And why?
- What can I expect in the hospital? pre-operative procedures? length of stay? anesthesia? infection? transfusion? urinary catheter?
- What kind of care will I need after my hysterectomy?
- How should I prepare for coming home from the hospital?
- How soon can I go back to work? Try heavy housework?
- When can I resume sexual activity?
As many other treatments or surgical procedures, a hysterectomy can leave different consequences in a women’s body.
For instance, some women claim a higher sexual libido after a hysterectomy, specially those women who claimed to have a lot of bleeding and pain before the procedure.
On the other hand, other women who underwent a hysterectomy experience a lower sexual libido. It seems that for some women, uterine contractions and pressure against the cervix can add to sexual pleasure. Others may feel less pleasure or reduced desire due to loss of certain hormones because ovaries were removed. Loss of hormones can cause vaginal dryness and make sex uncomfortable. This is when “Maca” can greatly help women, as it helps achieve a hormonal balance.
Emotional consequences are also present. While some women may feel more relaxed for not worrying about getting pregnant, other worry or feel depressed about not being able to have babies. Some women feel changed or feel they have suffered a loss, others feel depressed. Even though most feelings of depression seem to disappear after the first weeks of surgery, for some women they may last for longer periods of time.