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What is a Hysterectomy?

Doctor holding surgical tools next to a plaster mold of female reproductive system indicating hysterectomy

In order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle well into old age, people need to take care of their bodies. As women age, their reproductive systems continue producing hormones that can become harmful to their health over time. This forces women to face important questions such as “what is a hysterectomy," “what are the types of hysterectomies,” and “why are hysterectomies done”. Let’s unpack these questions to learn more about what a hysterectomy is, and why they are done.

What Is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation that women have to remove their uterus, or womb. It is a common surgery for women in the United States. A hysterectomy is performed to treat various women’s health conditions as they age.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, nearly 500,000 women get hysterectomies every year.

While common, a hysterectomy is a major surgery - and sometimes it is medically necessary. You should speak with your OBGYN about any concerns you might have regarding your reproductive health.

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Types of Hysterectomy:

The most common type of hysterectomy is the total hysterectomy. If you are diagnosed with cancer, a radical hysterectomy will likely be the type of hysterectomy performed.

Why is a Hysterectomy Done?

Still wondering “what is a hysterectomy” or whether or not you need one? Read through these common causes for getting a hysterectomy.

Uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that appear in the uterine system, and often cause persistent bleeding, anemia, pelvic pain, or bladder pressure. A hysterectomy is the only permanent and sure solution for fibroids.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition in which the tissue that lines your uterus begins to grow outside of it. When medication, endometrial ablation, or other procedures do not improve the symptoms of endometriosis, you may need a hysterectomy along with the removal of ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.

Uterine prolapse

Uterine prolapse is a condition in which the uterus descends into the vagina. This happens when the supporting ligaments and tissues weaken, which leads to urinary incontinence, pelvic pressure, or difficulty with bowel movements.

Abnormal uterine bleeding

Changes in hormone levels, infection, cancer, or fibroids can cause heavy, irregular, and prolonged bleeding. If your periods are irregular or prolonged each cycle, it could indicate more serious issues. Talk to your OBGYN about whether or not a hysterectomy is the right choice for you.

Gynecologic cancer

If you have uterine or cervical cancer, a hysterectomy may be the best treatment option. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, you may simply need radiation or chemotherapy; however, a radical hysterectomy can be an effective treatment.

Conclusion: What is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a procedure that women undergo to help relieve other health issues. A common misconception is that hysterectomies can help reduce symptoms of menopause. Having a hysterectomy will not spare you from experiencing menopause. In fact, if your ovaries are removed, it will likely cause you to start menopause immediately following the procedure.

If you are still concerned about what is a hysterectomy, talk to your OBGYN about the procedure and the risks.

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*This blog is for general informational purposes only. Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A. does not distribute medical advice through this blog. As such, this blog does not constitute a patient-client relationship between the reader and Christopher K. Quinsey MD, P.A.

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