Hysterectomy: Is This Treatment Option Right For You?

Hysterectomy: Is This Treatment Option Right For You? 645d5349e2642.png

Hysterectomy: Is This Treatment Option Right For You?

Though hysterectomy surgery was once common practice for women with fibroids, today there are many different options. However, depending on the severity of the fibroids and fibroid-related symptoms, some women may still opt to have a hysterectomy.

Therefore, today let’s dive deeper into this surgical procedure, and cover the different types of hysterectomies, as well as reasons why some women might elect to have this operation.

There are three different types of hysterectomies, and they are:

  • Supracervical hysterectomy: During this procedure, surgeons remove the uterus but not the cervix. A doctor may also refer to this procedure as subtotal or partial hysterectomy, it is most often used to treat conditions such as endometriosis.
  • Radical hysterectomy: This surgery removes the uterus, cervix, and surrounding support tissue. Doctors often recommend this type of hysterectomy for people with cancer.
  • Total hysterectomy: This surgery involves the complete removal of the uterus and cervix. This can be used to treat many conditions, such as heavy menstrual bleeding, and uterine fibroids.

It’s also important to note that depending on the circumstances surrounding the need for a hysterectomy, the surgeon may also remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) and the fallopian tubes (salpingectomy).

Though there are some promising medications available, such as the Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists Lupron, Synarel, and Zoladex which can shrink fibroids and reduce fibroid-related heavy bleeding- some women would prefer a permanent surgical procedure such as a hysterectomy, so as to avoid having to take these medications due to their side effects and risks.

In fact, it is estimated that 40% of women taking GnRH agonists experience side effects such as:

  • hot flashes
  • mood changes
  • increased sweating
  • muscle stiffness
  • vaginal dryness

And the most concerning side effect of GnRH agonist therapy,  osteoporosis.

Other medications that are used to treat fibroids are:

  • Birth control: Birth control can also be used to help with symptoms of fibroids — specifically heavy bleeding during and between periods and menstrual cramps.
    – Given that some of the most commonly prescribed birth control pills can increase estrogen and therefore increase the size of fibroids, birth control is not always the best solution.
  • Progesterone-containing agents: Pills, implants, injections, or an intrauterine device (IUD) — may also control bleeding.
    – If the fibroids are small, and the symptoms are mild, a progesterone-containing birth control pill may be beneficial in reducing symptoms. However, they come with their own set of side effects, and they can sometimes mask the severity of fibroids and other underlying conditions.
  • Elagolix: A combination of a GnRH agonist, estradiol, and norethindrone that has proven to be effective at reducing fibroid symptoms with a lower risk of adverse problems that can come from GnRH agonists alone.
    – Elagolix interacts with several other medications, and if taken long-term can cause permanent bone loss.
  • Tranexamic acid: An antifibrinolytic oral drug that’s indicated for the treatment of cyclic heavy menstrual bleeding in women with uterine fibroids.
    – Though it is a nonhormonal option to reduce menstrual blood loss, it does not affect or address the underlying cause of the bleeding- which is the fibroids themselves. It is also expensive.

Medications can be effective at managing fibroid symptoms, however, they do so, as a temporary solution. Medications do not fix the problem and sometimes they can even make things worse.

Therefore the main benefit of having a hysterectomy is that it doesn’t just manage fibroid symptoms, but by surgically removing the uterus, it removes the fibroids completely.

Not only does a hysterectomy remove fibroids and eliminate any possibility of them returning, but it also eliminates any possibility of having children.

For women that would like to have children, medication may be a good option to help manage fibroid symptoms allowing them to postpone a hysterectomy.  Or they may opt to have a uterine-sparing procedure done such as a myomectomy or Uterine Fibroid Embolization, which we specialize in here at MidAtlantic Vascular and Interventional.

The Bottom Line: For women with severe fibroids, fibroids that keep coming back, and fibroids that haven’t responded well to medication or other procedures, a hysterectomy may be an option worth considering. That being said, just like with medications, having a hysterectomy isn’t without its own set of side effects and risks. In our next article, we will take a look at what those are.

 

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