Every year approximately 600,000 women have a hysterectomy — a surgery that removes the uterus. Many more are advised to do so. Many women aren’t given adequate information about alternatives or what exactly a hysterectomy even involves! A surprising number of women aren’t sure what is going to be removed and what the consequences may be. As an example, many women think a hysterectomy will put them into instant menopause, even though it is removal of the ovaries, not the uterus, that causes menopause.
While many hysterectomies are appropriate and beneficial, there are still too many women who have unnecessary surgery or who are not offered less invasive alternatives. Surgical technology has exploded in the last 15 years, which is why I wrote my book, The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy, as the source women can turn to in order to learn about uterus-sparing alternatives to hysterectomy, such as uterine lining ablation, hysteroscopic myomectomy and uterine artery embolization. Too many women are still not offered those options, and I feel more strongly than ever that women need to know about these procedures, ask about these procedures and in some cases find a doctor who will provide these procedures if their own cannot.
The backlash against the overutilization of hysterectomy has unfortunately resulted in women being led to believe that avoiding hysterectomy is always in their best interest, when in fact it is not. Many books on hysterectomy are extremely one-sided. The message is usually either “never have a hysterectomy under any circumstances, your life will be ruined” or “you’re having a hysterectomy . . . here’s what to bring to the hospital!”
If you have been told you need a hysterectomy, set up a consultation with your physician and ask the following three key questions:
- What are alternatives to hysterectomy and is a hysterectomy the best option for me?
- Can this procedure be performed laparoscopically, vaginally or with robotic assistance instead of through an abdominal incision? If not, why not?
- In addition to removing my uterus, do you also advise removal of my cervix? Tubes? Ovaries?
Performing hysterectomies for years has given me a unique perspective regarding its impact on women’s lives. What has really influenced my views, however, is years of talking to women before and after their surgery. One thing is consistent: The more information a woman has prior to surgery, the better the choices she will make and the better her long-term outcome will be.
The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy presents current treatment options in a balanced, objective and scientific manner so that women interested in alternatives won’t feel that they are being sold a procedure they are trying to avoid and women who desire or require a hysterectomy will know what to expect. It is time to take the “hysteria” out of hysterectomy and be empowered with accurate, unbiased information. Only then can you make appropriate decisions regarding the health issues that affect yourself and your family.