Guest Author - A. Maria Hester, M.D.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT:
Q: What exactly is a hysterectomy?
A: A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus, or womb, is removed. Depending on a variety of factors, the doctor may remove one or both ovaries and the fallopian tubes as well. The doctor may choose the traditional approach by doing an abdominal hysterectomy (which includes an incision in the lower abdominal wall) or she may opt perform a vaginal hysterectomy.
Q:Is there an advantage of one form of hysterectomy over the other?
A: Research has shown that there are generally fewer complications with the vaginal approach than the abdominal one and ladies frequently are able to be discharged from the hospital sooner if they have had a vaginal hysterectomy. However, this approach is not for everyone. For instance, if the uterus is being removed because it is very large, such as is the case with large fibroids, it is not feasible to remove if thru the vagina. Your doctor can tell you the pros and cons of each potential procedure should it be deemed necessary that you undergo a hysterectomy.
Q: What are some reasons a woman undergoes a hysterectomy?
A: There are several conditions that would prompt a physician to recommend a hysterectomy, such as excessive uterine bleeding (which can lead to severe anemia), fibroid tumors (noncancerous grows that usually do not require surgery), chronic pelvic pain (which could be due to the effects of endometriosis or scarring), endometrial hyperplasia (a medical term that simply means excessive growth of the lining of the uterus), cancerous or pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix or body of the uterus, or uterine prolapse (in which weak muscles result in the uterus sinking into the vaginal canal).
Q: What is an oophorectomy?
A: An oophorectomy means removal of the ovaries. Frequently, when a physician does a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) she also does an oophorectomy and removes the ovaries as well.
Q: Will I go through the menopause after I have a hystectomy?
A: Since a hystectomy only removes the uterus and estrogen and progesterone are made in the ovaries, a hysterectomy without an oophorectomy typically does not cause a lot of menopausal symptoms. However, if your physician performs a hysterectomy along with an oophorectomy, or if for some reason your doctor feels a need to perform an oophorectomy without a hysterectomy, you would experience menopausal symptoms. If your ovaries are removed, your physician will talk to you about options for estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT), whichever is deemed appropriate for you.