Hysterectomies – many women have to have them, but what exactly are they?

A hysterectomy is the process whereby part or the entire womb of a woman is surgically removed, normally by a gynecologist. This removal means the women will no longer be able to bear children, so it is an operation that is only carried out when absolutely necessary to do so.

In the UK, roughly 1 in every five adults will have had a hysterectomy by the time they’re 60 years old. Hysterectomies are most commonly carried out because of the following problems:

  • Cervical Cancer– a hysterectomy isn’t normally carried out for people with Cervical Cancer that hasn’t spread. However, if it has, it’s best to have it removed, to avoid it spreading further. A radical hysterectomy can also be carried out in this instance, which is where the uterus and surrounding tissues are removed.
  • Ovarian cancer– a hysterectomy stops life threatening Ovarian Cancer from spreading. With ovarian Cancer found in one out of every 300 women, it affects only 1 in 5000 women who have had a hysterectomy, so undergoing this operation can also prevent Ovarian Cancer.
  • Tumors– this is the most common gynecological problem in women, causing the uterus to bulge quite significantly. The uterus is therefore removed through the vagina.
  • Chronic pelvic pain– this is a pain around the belly button area, which has lasted for at least six months. It is not a disease on its own by instead a symptom caused by other conditions, such as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pelvic floor pain and Chronic Pelvic inflammatory Disease.

Due to hysterectomies being major operations, there are serious risks attached to it, such as:

  • Injury to other organs nearby, such as the bowel
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Blood clots than can be fatal, most often in the lungs and legs
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Heart problems

Preparing for a hysterectomy is a good idea, as you should be bed bound for about 6 weeks after the operation, in order for your body to recover sufficiently. If you’re due to have a hysterectomy, it’s probably a good idea to have your bed changed with fresh linen for your arrival back home, as well as microwave meals frozen in the freezer, waiting for you. This way you’ll be comfortable in a clean bed and will have easy cook meals, so you don’t have to struggle to make your dinner every night.

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