As many as 600,000 women undergo a hysterectomy each year in the United States for a variety of reasons and the choice is rarely an easy one. In most cases, the decision is fueled by the fact that certain reproductive organs have become more of a liability than an asset, making their removal a good option.
To ensure that you know what you’re getting into if you’re considering a hysterectomy, Dr. Fernando Otero and the team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley want to provide you with a few points to consider.
The different kinds of hysterectomies
The first thing to understand about a hysterectomy is that there are several different types, including:
- A supracervical hysterectomy — we remove your uterus while preserving your cervix
- A total hysterectomy — we remove your uterus and cervix
- A hysterectomy with oophorectomy — we remove your uterus, one or both of your ovaries, and sometimes your fallopian tubes
- A radical hysterectomy — we remove your uterus, cervix, the top portion of your vagina, surrounding tissue, and sometimes the pelvic lymph nodes; most often used in cases of cancer
The type of hysterectomy you have influences the side effects you can expect afterward.
Side effects of a hysterectomy
You may have heard many different stories about life after a hysterectomy, from a sudden dive into menopause to pelvic organ prolapse. We want to shed some light in these areas and deliver the facts.
The first point is that no matter which type of hysterectomy we perform, your ability to have children comes to an end.
From there, the different types of hysterectomies can play a role in what happens afterward. For example, if we’re only removing your uterus, you may not enter menopause, as your ovaries are still intact. Conversely, if we do remove your ovaries, you will enter menopause, as these organs are your primary producers of estrogen and progesterone.
Another point to consider is that if you’re opting for a hysterectomy for health reasons, such as fibroids, endometriosis, and heavy bleeding, you want it put an end to your health issue. While rare, women who undergo a hysterectomy for endometriosis can still have endometriosis afterward, though this largely stems from existing, and undiscovered, endometriosis.
On the other hand, if uterine fibroids and heavy bleeding are your primary issues, a hysterectomy will resolve those problems.
When it comes to pelvic organ prolapse, this is a risk after a hysterectomy, as we remove some of the support systems your pelvic organs rely on. Of course, we will guide you toward the steps necessary to help prevent this outcome.
Finally, let’s talk about your sex life. A hysterectomy is a fairly major procedure and you’ll need time to heal. Depending upon the extent of the procedure, you should expect to refrain from intercourse for several weeks or more.
Once you’ve healed, however, your sex life can return to normal. If you’re thrown into menopause because of ovary removal, you may experience a decline in vaginal health, which we can offset through hormone replacement therapy.
Of course, there are other considerations when it comes to a hysterectomy, but these should give you a better idea of what to expect.
If you have more questions about hysterectomies, we’re here to answer them all. Simply contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to get started.