8 Things To Know About Having a Hysterectomy

If you’re up on your celebrity news, you will know that Lena Dunham has recently been in the news for undergoing a hysterectomy. You might have previously known about her suffering from endometriosis. Without reading the Vogue article on Lena’s decision to undergo surgery, you might have deduced that the two were connected, but you might not have been 100 percent sure how.

I had heard of hysterectomies before, and I bet I’m not alone in thinking they’re usually something that older women who are going through menopause get when they’re suffering problems. That was about my only idea about them, but that’s just the start of it. As Lena pointed out on Instagram, there are over 60 million women in America alone who are living with hysterectomies.

To help everyone become more informed about them, here are eight things to know about having a hysterectomy. 


It's An Operation To Remove The Uterus

Let's start off with the basics. A hysterectomy is a surgery where the uterus is removed. Within that there are different types of hysterectomies, like partial and full hysterectomies. The terms can sometimes vary depending on the surgeon and/or place, Generally, according to WebMD, subtotal or supracervial hysterectomies are where part of the uterus is removed.  A total hysterectomy removes the whole uterus and cervix. Finally, a radical hysterectomy is where a surgeon removes the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina. Sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed along with the uterus, but those procedures have separate names: oophorectomy and salpingectomy, respectively.

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It's Normally A Last Resort Option

Given that it is surgery, hysterectomies are often the last step if other treatments haven't been working. Those who get hysterectomies could be dealing with uterine fibroids, chronic abdominal pain, abdominal vagina bleeding, thickening of the uterus aka adenomyosis, endometriosis, like Lena. People with certain types of cancer including cancer of the cervix, uterus, and/or ovaries may undergo one.

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You Will Not Be Able To Get Pregnant If You Have One

If you undergo a hysterectomy, you will not be able to bare children. Going back to health class, the uterus is where a baby grows inside of the body, so when it's removed, it would not be possible to carry a baby. Very Well does warn that there is a very, very small chance of ectopic pregnancy, where the egg grows somewhere in the remaining organs, i.e. the fallopian tubes This can even happen to people who haven't had hysterectomies and it's very dangerous to the woman's health. It will not result in a baby developing.

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You Can Still Have Sex After It

Obviously, it will take time for someone to heal after having a hysterectomy, but it will still be possible to have sex. Depending on the type of surgery that a person has, it can take one to two months to heal properly. A doctor will advise the person who had the operation how soon they can have sex. The answer can also vary between oral sex, vaginal sex, using vibrators, etc.

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You Can Go Into Menopause After It

There's a common myth that everyone who has a hysterectomy goes into menopause right after it. According to Everyday Health that's not the case. The only people who will go into menopause are those who have their ovaries removed during the surgery and they didn't have menopause before.

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There Are Risks

Given that this is surgery, there are of course risks with a hysterectomy. Women's Health Australia reveals that common side effects include fever and infection. There are also the usual complications from anesthetics. More serious complications include damage to the surrounding organs, urination trouble, and the formation of a blood clot in the lungs. Chronic pain and the forming of a fistula, an abnormal connection between the bladder and vagina, could occur, too. A vaginal vault prolapse can also happen where the vagina drops down because of less support. This will require corrective surgery.

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Hormone Therapy Can Help After Surgery

Many people associate hormone therapy surgery after hysterectomies for combating symptoms of menopause. It's true that estrogen therapy can help alleviate some of the symptoms that women can experience. Everyday Health does warn that there are also risks associated with it so it's best for a person to speak to their doctor and decide what is best for them.

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There Could Be Another Option

Remember what I said about how a hysterectomy is often the last resort? Speak with your doctor about your personal problems and possible treatments as there will likely be other options to try out. It will vary by case, but some of them don't even involve surgery. Other options can include hormone therapy, other non-hormone drugs, heat therapy, and laser therapy, etc.

Image source: Getty

Did you know what a hysterectomy was? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Heather Cichowski, on Twitter.

 

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