Side Effects and Risks of a Hysterectomy

Side Effects and Risks of a Hysterectomy 645d5334f3e0f.png

Side Effects and Risks of a Hysterectomy

As we’ve covered in our previous articles, a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of the uterus and cervix, is one of the treatment options for women with uterine fibroids. And, like all surgeries, it comes with its own set of side effects and risks.

One of the benefits of having a hysterectomy is that in removing the uterus, the fibroids are also removed. In doing so, not only are the fibroids eliminated but so is the possibility of them growing back. To put it frankly, no more uterus, no more fibroids.

Women that would like to avoid having to take medication and experience the side effects associated with them, as well as women who would like to avoid the risk of fibroids returning following some of the other treatment procedures available, may wish to explore this option. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a hysterectomy is a major surgery and it is not without its own side effects and risks.

So let’s take a look at some of the potential side effects and risks of having a hysterectomy, as well as what can be expected in regard to the recovery period following the procedure.

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus and cervix are removed through either an incision in the abdomen or belly button, or it is done vaginally. The procedure typically takes 1-3 hours and requires a spinal or epidural anesthetic that numbs the lower parts of the body, and it also may involve the use of a general anesthetic to put the patient to sleep during the surgery.

Once the surgery is complete, the recovery period can be rather difficult. A post-surgery hospital stay is necessary for up to five days. Then, once home, it can take roughly 6-8 weeks of rest to fully recover.

Some of the most common side effects associated with having a hysterectomy are vaginal drainage that may occur up to six weeks after surgery, and irritation at the surgical incision sites.
Other side effects may include:

– Blood clots.
– Hemorrhage.
– Infection.
– Injury to other surrounding organs including the bladder, ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder), intestines, muscles, nerves, or blood vessels.
– Formation of a fistula (an abnormal connection between the vagina and bladder).
– Allergic reactions to the anesthetic, pain medication, adhesives, or skin prep used during the procedure.

If the hysterectomy involves removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes, side effects such as menopausal symptoms are often experienced.

These include:

– hot flashes
– vaginal dryness
– loss of libido
– insomnia

It’s also important to understand that a hysterectomy is not reversible, it is permanent. After a woman has a hysterectomy, she will no longer have a period, and will no longer be able to bear children. For this reason, as well as others, many women experience emotional side effects from having a hysterectomy. The surgery has also been associated with an increased risk of long-term mental health issues. This is especially true of depression and anxiety.

The bottom line: If you are considering a hysterectomy, it is important to speak with your doctor about your concerns. In this day and age, a hysterectomy is far from the only surgical option for removing fibroids. In fact, there are several surgical procedures to remove fibroids while sparing the uterus- which is especially important for women who would like to have children, and for women that would prefer to avoid having major surgery.

In our next article, we will take a look at a uterine-sparing surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids called a myomectomy.

 

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