Hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and perhaps the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well by surgery. Though hysterectomy may be indicated for a number of gynecological conditions, it is something that ought to be approached with caution.
A hysterectomy should only be used as a last resort after all other options have been considered, say experts. It isn’t just that a woman will no longer be able to have children after a hysterectomy; there are other long term negative effects and risks that the surgery carries with it.
Not only do hysterectomies carry with them very significant risks they also increase chances of requiring further surgeries.
Another reason to steer clear of hysterectomies is that they may not even be a complete solution. For instance, in the case of endometriosis, having a hysterectomy is not a guarantee that the problem will not return.
According to some estimates, about 70 to 85% of hysterectomies are not really necessary. It is urged that other than cancerous conditions, hysterectomies be viewed with extreme caution and that all other avenues be explored before opting for surgery. There are other viable alternatives to the surgery:
Management of Symptoms
Depending upon what and how severe the symptoms are, it can be possible to control them using medications and other methods. For pain related to fibroids NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used. For menorrhagia (severe and painful menstrual bleeding) birth control pills or IUD (intrauterine device) can offer a solution.
For endometriosis also, birth control pills and other drugs can help reduce and control symptoms. Similarly for chronic pelvic pain, NSAIDs can help to control the symptoms quite adequately.
Androgens can also help control a number of symptoms and could help to prevent having to undergo a hysterectomy.
This can also be a solution for severe menses where the lining of the uterus is ablated using a number of different procedures: cryoablation, thermal balloon ablation and radiofrequency ablation can all help and are known to have a high rate of success.
In the case of uterine fibroids, a procedure to surgically remove the fibroids, preferably laparoscopicaly, can help prevent hysterectomy.
In many cases lifestyle alterations including regular exercise and development of healthy eating habits can bring about significant changes without having to undergo surgery. Alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture, which are known to have minimal side effects, can also be tried.