An estimated one in nine women will have a hysterectomy in their lifetime. In fact, with about 600,000 procedures performed each year in the US, a hysterectomy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in American women. Yet, despite advances in surgical technology that make hysterectomies less invasive, reduce the risk of complications, and require shorter recovery time than in the past, fears and misconceptions about the procedure persist.
If you are considering a hysterectomy, make sure you know the facts so you can decide if the procedure is right for you.
So, let’s debunk the top 5 most common hysterectomy myths:
A hysterectomy is your only option
The most common reasons women choose to have a hysterectomy include:
- Uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumors that grow in or around the uterus) that cause pelvic pain, heavy and painful periods, or pain during sex
- Endometriosis, a condition where cells in the womb lining become inflamed or damaged
- Uterine prolapse, which occurs when the tissues and ligaments supporting the womb weaken, causing the uterus to drop down from its normal position
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), an infection of the reproductive system that damages the womb and causes long-term pain
- Cancer, including cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and cancer of the uterus
If you have cancer, a hysterectomy may be your only option. But for other conditions, there are alternative options that should be considered first, such as medications or other, more conservative, procedures. If you are unsure about what treatment to choose, talk with your doctor. In most cases, removing the uterus should be the last resort after exploring other alternatives.
Having a hysterectomy triggers menopause
Menopause happens when the ovaries stop releasing eggs and producing estrogen and progesterone, the hormones that regulate menstruation. A hysterectomy only involves removal of the uterus, NOT the ovaries (unless you choose to have them removed). If you keep your ovaries, your hormones should not be affected, and you won’t trigger menopause.
A hysterectomy will ruin your sex life
This is not necessarily true. If you have your ovaries removed, you may experience a decline in sexual desire. But removal of only the uterus does not change anything hormonally, so should not cause a decrease in libido. In fact, many women actually find they enjoy sex more following a hysterectomy! The painful conditions that are the top reasons for having a hysterectomy usually keep women from having sex. After your uterus is removed, and your pre-surgery pain is relieved, it’s likely that your interest in sex will actually go up!
One thing that might change is the way you experience orgasms – since the uterus is removed, you won’t be able to experience uterine orgasms. You’ll still be able to have vulval orgasms from stimulating the clitoris, though.
Hysterectomy is a major surgery with a long, painful recovery time
Thanks to advances in surgical technology, hysterectomies no longer mean a large incision across your abdomen and staying in the hospital for a week. Now, you can choose to have a laparoscopic or robotic hysterectomy. These procedures are minimally invasive, only require small incisions, and allow you to go home on the same day. They also only take about two weeks to recover from. You’ll still be limited on how much activity you can do for up to six weeks, but you won’t be confined to your bed for weeks at a time.
You can still get pregnant with a partial hysterectomy
Depending on your reason for having a hysterectomy, your surgeon may choose to remove just part of your uterus. However, it’s important to understand that if you have a hysterectomy, whether it be to remove part of or the entire uterus, you can no longer get pregnant or carry a baby. So, you should wait to have a hysterectomy until after you are sure you no longer want to carry children.
Despite minimally invasive options that require less recovery time, a hysterectomy is still a major procedure with permanent alterations on your body, so the decision to have the procedure should not be taken lightly. If you’ve tried hysterectomy alternatives and they have not brought you relief, talk to your doctor about whether a hysterectomy might be a good fit for you.
If you have questions or are considering a hysterectomy, reach out to one our surgeons today!