Each year in the United States, surgeons perform nearly half a million hysterectomies to treat women who are affected by a life-threatening or health-diminishing gynecological condition. A hysterectomy procedure can be minimal or more extensive, depending on the problem:
In some cases, it’s necessary to remove the structures around your uterus too, such as your ovaries and fallopian tubes. When cancer is involved, the surgeon may also excise the upper portion of your vagina along with surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
At Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology in Amarillo, Texas, our skilled team of board-certified women’s wellness specialists performs hysterectomies using minimally invasive laparoscopic methods as well as advanced, robotic-assisted techniques whenever possible.
After Cesarean delivery (C-section), hysterectomy is the second most common women’s surgery in the US. The procedure is so common, in fact, that about one in three American women aged 60 and older has had a hysterectomy.
The objective of any hysterectomy treatment is to improve or resolve a serious gynecological condition that typically can’t be treated any other way. Following the procedure, you no longer have menstrual periods, and you can’t become pregnant.
If a hysterectomy removes your ovaries too, you enter menopause right away. Called surgically induced menopause, this abrupt condition can trigger a severe onset of menopausal symptoms that requires you to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after your operation.
The factors that lead our team to recommend hysterectomy treatment can be divided into two basic categories: Medical emergencies where uterus removal is done as a life-saving measure, and chronic conditions that can be greatly improved or cured by the procedure. A hysterectomy can:
Most hysterectomies are done to improve a woman’s health, not save her life. Let’s take a closer look at each scenario:
Most of the time, a hysterectomy is an elective surgery, meaning you get to decide whether it’s the best treatment approach for you, and you have time to weigh all your options and make an informed decision.
It’s important to understand that our team typically recommends an elective hysterectomy only after conservative treatment strategies haven’t provided complete, effective, or enduring relief from a serious gynecologic problem. Three common problems that can be improved or resolved by an elective hysterectomy are:
One of the most common reasons for an elective hysterectomy, fibroids are noncancerous uterine growths that can trigger chronic pelvic pain, heavy periods, and abdominal distension.
A hysterectomy is often the best choice if taking hormonal birth control or removing the growths with a minor procedure (myomectomy) doesn’t resolve your problem — especially for women who don’t plan to have any or more children in the future.
This condition occurs when tissue that’s like the lining of your uterus — which thickens with blood and sheds each month — grows outside of your uterus, causing severe pelvic pain and abnormal uterine bleeding between periods.
When endometriosis symptoms persist despite the use of hormone therapy, or if endometrial implants return after surgical removal, a hysterectomy may be your best chance for reducing or eliminating symptoms.
While any woman can develop uterine prolapse, the condition is most common among women who’ve had multiple vaginal births, are very overweight, or have gone through menopause. It occurs when weakened pelvic floor muscles no longer support the weight of your pelvic organs, allowing your uterus to slip down into your vagina.
Standard treatment for the pelvic pressure, urinary incontinence, and bowel problems that can occur with uterine prolapse include pelvic floor exercises or minimally invasive pelvic floor repair surgery. In severe cases, however, a hysterectomy may be the best option.
Less commonly, a hysterectomy is done as a necessary, life-saving measure. It can be the best treatment option in certain emergency situations, such as when fast, life-threatening uterine bleeding can’t be stopped following childbirth.
A hysterectomy is also the go-to treatment for aggressive cancers of the uterus, uterine lining (endometrium), cervix, or ovaries.
While conservative oncological care (i.e., radiation, chemotherapy, surgical removal of cancer cells, immunotherapy) may be viable treatment options for precancerous cells and early-stage reproductive cancers, a hysterectomy is typically recommended as the first line of defense in advanced-stage reproductive cancer cases that pose a grave danger to your life.
Whether you’re considering an elective hysterectomy, or you’ve just been told you need the procedure to treat cancer, you want top-notch, expert care and the best possible outcome. To find out how we can help, schedule a visit at Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology by calling our office at 806-359-5468 today.