The uterus or the womb is the childbearing organ of a woman’s body. The surgical removal of the uterus is called hysterectomy and it may be partial or total, depending on whether or not, the removal of cervix (birth canal), ovaries, and fallopian tube accompany it. The surgical removal of one or both ovaries is termed as oophorectomy. Although removal of uterus has become a common occurrence today, it is widely perceived that more hysterectomies are performed than are actually required.
Reasons For Surgery
Hysterectomy is performed for a variety of reasons. Some of the common ones include heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding; dysmenorrhoea (severe pain accompanying menstruation); fibroids, gynecological cancer, endometriosis (movement of cells from the uterus lining to other parts of the body); inflammatory disease of pelvic by bacterial infection; or prolapse (collapse of the uterus due to loose ligaments or damage to the pelvic muscles). Although, these are generally considered, before performing a hysterectomy, they cannot be taken as a yardstick for surgical intervention. The final decision rests heavily, on the severity of the condition or disease as well as other intrinsic factors.
To Do Or Not To Do
Hysterectomy has both; advantages and disadvantages. This means that, there may be cases when an alternate treatment method can be considered and there may be cases when hysterectomy may be the best alternative. Although developments in medical care have simplified the surgical procedure and shortened recovery time for a hysterectomy, it is still a major operation. The risk factors associated with it are almost the same, as for any major surgery.
Ideally, a hysterectomy should be considered as a last resort, only when all other options have failed. Many patients who have crossed the childbearing age feel that hysterectomy is a logical option. This is not true, as the uterus has several other important functions, besides serving as a receptacle for the growing fetus. Some of the functions are listed:
The uterus and ovaries play a major role in maintaining the female hormone system. If the ovaries are removed, then ovulation ceases and this would lead to lowered levels of estrogen and progesterone and consequently, to premature menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flushes, and other symptoms associated with natural menopause. In such cases, patients are put through hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – also known as hormone therapy (HT) – to maintain their hormone levels.
It has been observed that the uterus, whether or not in the child-bearing stage, attributes to feelings of ‘completeness’ or ‘feminity’ and does have some kind of influence on the psyche and self-image of a women. Although some women relate hysterectomy to a loss in sexuality, it is not completely true, since sexuality is more about the way a woman looks, feels or relates to others. But then again, the way women cope with the stress of hysterectomy depends largely on the individual.
Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Function
There are no conclusive studies on loss of sexuality after hysterectomy. Report suggests that, there are as many women who encounter sexual dysfunction, as there are those who find no change in sexual function, after a hysterectomy. Interestingly, there are a significant number of women who claim that, their enjoyment has increased after a hysterectomy. These perhaps point to the fact that the most decisive in postoperative sexuality was preoperative sexual activity.