Medically review by
Paul Chandler, MD
McLeod Women’s Care
Despite hysterectomy ranking as one of the most common surgeries in this country, many myths or misinformation still surround this procedure.
MYTH #1: It’s Not Always Major Surgery
“Surgical and technological advances have transformed many hysterectomies to minimally invasive procedures, with less pain and faster recovery,” says McLeod Gynecologist Paul Chandler, MD. “Even then, I’ll first try medications or more conservative approaches, because without a uterus, you can’t bear children.”
Gynecologists choose the most appropriate surgical approach from a list of options:
MYTH #2: A Hysterectomy is a One-Size-Fits-All Procedure
Different types of hysterectomies involve removal of more or fewer organs.
Partial hysterectomy involves removing only the upper part of the uterus (not including the cervix). This is also called a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy.
Total hysterectomy includes removal of the uterus and cervix.
Radical hysterectomy is normally recommended when cancer is suspected. Surgery removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, portions of the vagina and any lymph glands that might be affected. In some cases, surgery also removes the ovaries.
MYTH #3: It’s a Painful, Lengthy Recovery
With laparoscopic surgery, patients experience less pain and some go home the next day. Other patients usually go home from the hospital after 1-3 days. Full recovery can take 2-6 weeks, but most women feel dramatically better after a couple of days to weeks.
MYTH #4: Hysterectomy Causes Menopause
You can have your uterus and cervix removed without triggering menopause. The condition occurs when your ovaries and connected fallopian tubes no longer release eggs and hormones into your body. As long as you retain those organs, your body will not automatically give rise to menopause.
MYTH #5: Only Older Women Face a Hysterectomy
Gynecologists always try to use other treatments until a woman no longer wants to bear children. Younger women suffering from fibroids, abnormal bleeding, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or pelvic organ prolapse may also face a hysterectomy if other treatments are unsuccessful. Gynecological cancer represents a major health danger and will likely require hysterectomy.
Relatively recently, we often will remove the fallopian tubes to reduce, but not eliminate, the risks of ovarian cancer. Some cases of ovarian cancer actually come from the fallopian tubes.
If the cervix is removed, the risks of cervical cancer are almost eliminated. Total hysterectomy also eliminates the risks of uterine cancer. Removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes during a hysterectomy dramatically reduces, but does not completely eliminate, the risks of ovarian cancer.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Be sure to see your gynecologist for your annual checkup. Problems can be spotted early and hysterectomy avoided. If your physician recommends a hysterectomy, talk with them about your surgical options.
Find a Gynecologist near you.