Is a hysterectomy a solution for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? The symptoms of PCOS and hormonal imbalance can be awful and sometimes downright devastating so anything that alleviates some of these symptoms might seem welcome. With PCOS the ovaries can produce excess male hormones called androgens, and they can grow small fluid-filled cysts inside that may cause pressure, bloating, swelling and even pain. These excess male hormones create symptoms like acne, decreased breast size, increase in body hair in a male pattern, amenorrhea (lack of menstrual periods), and oily skin. They can also cause a deepening voice and thinning hair and hair loss at the front of the scalp on both sides of the head.
And then there’s heavy bleeding caused from low progesterone levels, one of the classic signs of PCOS.
Who wouldn’t want a quick fix to these symptoms?
Patient beware. It may seem that if we remove the body parts that seem to be causing the discomfort that all will be well. Read on.
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a very invasive surgical procedure where the uterus is removed and may include one or both ovaries. It also included the removal of the cervix as a routine procedure, but now is being left intact by many physicians. Surgery is never simple and never without potential serious side effects both short and long term. The idea behind the surgery is that once the uterus and ovaries are gone, the symptoms of PCOS will simply vanish. Not so. Not at all.
Good Reasons to Keep Your Uterus, Cervix and Ovaries (reference: The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup)
- The uterus, cervix and ovaries work together your entire life (and share much of the same blood supply) to provide your body with hormonal support.
- Ovaries are the female equivalent of the male testes, producing much-needed male hormones essential for normal sex drive.
- The uterus, cervix and ovaries are needed for the long transition into menopause when the adrenal glands begin to take over.
- During orgasm the uterus undergoes rhythmic contractions, contributing to the depth of sexual pleasure that many women experience during lovemaking.
- The uterus, cervix and ovaries are responsible for pheromone secretion which may increase a woman’s sexual attractiveness.
- The cervix (the lower portion of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina) makes up part of the pelvic floor, helping to support the bladder.
What Can Happen When You Remove Your Uterus, Cervix and Ovaries (reference: The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup)
- When the uterus is removed and the ovaries are left in, the function of your ovaries are affected. Up to 50% of women who have had hysterectomies lose the function of their ovaries earlier than they normally would – and they go through menopause earlier, increasing their risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
- Female castration occurs when the ovaries are removed (according to medical literature). The ovaries are equivalent to the male testes and some studies have shown that up to 25% of women have decreased sex drive after the removal of the ovaries.
- Menopause occurs instantly (not over the six to thirteen years with everything in tact) which is a shock to the hormonal system.
- Orgasm may not be as satisfying anymore.
- Urinary incontinence is an increased risk because the bladder nerves can be damaged.
Why Not a PCOS Hysterectomy?
PCOS is more than just a structural problem with ou