Has your doctor told you that you need a hysterectomy? There are many reasons for having one done but the 7 most popular are listed below:
4. Uterine prolapse
5. Abnormal vaginal bleeding
6. Adenoymosis, or thickening of the uterus
7. Chronic pelvic pain
A hysterectomy is usually a last resort for women who have been suffering for quite some time. In my case the pelvic pain from endometriosis had been going on for over twenty years!
Once you have decided to go forward with the surgery, your doctor will discuss which procedure they plan to use based on your medical situation. The most common type of surgery is an open abdominal hysterectomy where a 5 to 7 inch incision is cut into your abdomen. The uterus is then pulled out through that opening which is then closed with stitches, staples, or glue. If this is the procedure you are having done you can expect a 1 to 3 day stay in the hospital and a scar afterwards. Your recovery time will also be from 6 to 8 weeks long.
The minimally invasive procedure (MIP) is less traumatic on the body and involves cutting an incision in your vagina. The uterus is then pulled out through the vagina. In this case the scar is hidden and you may not even have to stay in the hospital overnight. Your recovery time will also be shorter, from 4 to 6 weeks. However, there is a greater chance of pain afterwards as the vagina can sometimes be injured.
The MIP procedure can be done using all kinds of nifty tools such as a laparoscope, which is a tube with a light and a camera on the end of it. The doctor will cut a small incision in your belly or belly button to insert the tube. They may also make another small cut in your belly to insert another tube that blows gas into the abdomen. This gas pushes the other organs aside so the doctor can clearly see what they are doing. These small incisions usually heal very well and are cut low on your abdomen so you can usually still wear a bikini.
Another tool that some surgeons are using during an MIP is a DaVinci Robot. This is a small robotic contraption with surgical tools attached that is inserted through one of the tiny belly incisions. The doctor then controls this system with a computer outside of your body. This procedure is much more expensive because of the high-tech equipment, so make sure your insurance will cover it.
No matter what type of surgery you are having, you will want to discuss with your doctor whether or not to keep your ovaries. Many women opt to leave their ovaries in to prevent menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, and osteoporosis down the road. If you keep your ovaries you will still need to have a pelvic exam done every year.
For those women who are at risk for cancer or endometriosis regrowth, you may decide to have your ovaries removed. If that is the case, be sure you have a plan for how you will counteract your risks of osteoporosis and heart disease due to the lack of estrogen. Most women who need their ovaries removed are not good candidates for hormone therapy. Therefore you will need to be vigilant about your exercise routine and also eat a diet rich in healthy nutrients. You will also need to get a pelvic exam every 1 to 3 years, depending on your condition. Cancer can still grow in your vagina and on your cervical cuff so don’t skip this!
The thought of a hysterectomy can be scary but most women sail through the procedure with very few problems. By educating yourself on what will be done you are taking the first step to control the situation and empower your mind. Sit back, relax, and marvel at the wonders of modern day medicine. I hope you have a very happy hysterectomy!!