A hysterectomy is a surgery performed to remove a woman’s uterus. A woman who has had a hysterectomy can no longer become pregnant. In addition to the uterus, a hysterectomy, may also include removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Your doctor will discuss which option is best for you. Tubes are often removed to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer (which has been shown to often actually be fallopian tube cancer deposited on the ovary rather than true ovarian cancer. This discovery has led to the new term "tubo-ovarian cancer"). Without risk factors for ovarian cancer, most often the ovaries are left in place even for postmenopausal women. Research shows that removal of ovaries can actually increase a woman’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
With today's technology and advancements in surgical techniques, most hysterectomies can be performed either laparoscopically or vaginally. This reduces the amount of time it takes to perform the procedure, as well as, reduces the amount of time it takes to heal. In addition, the tiny incisions used make for excellent cosmetic results, as well. Even though a hysterectomy is a serious procedure, healing time is still considerably less – generally just two weeks – when it is performed laparoscopically.
Hysterectomies are often recommended when a woman begins to have reproductive health issues that can no longer be controlled by other methods. Endometriosis, chronic fibroid tumors, excessively heavy periods and severe abdominal cramping are issues that can continue to worsen over time. If a woman is no longer interested in becoming pregnant, the doctor may recommend surgical intervention. Performing a hysterectomy may alleviate the majority, if not all, of her symptoms. A woman who has a family history of ovarian or uterine cancers may also be asked to consider a hysterectomy to reduce her cancer risks.
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