HYSTERECTOMY-RELATED PROBLEMS

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This is done for many different reasons. A common reason is fibroid tumors, benign growths in the uterus that can cause problems. Over 30 percent of the hysterectomies performed in the U.S. are done to remove fibroids. Other conditions for which hysterectomy is performed include endometriosis (20 percent) and prolapse of the uterus (16 to 18 percent). The symptoms that lead women to consider hysterectomy are varied but include the following a constant, heavy bloated feeling, urinary tract problems or incontenece unusually long and heavy menstrual periods, unusal swelling in the abdominal region (due to fibroid tumors) infertility (due to fibroid tumors or endometriosis) and intolerance to the drug therapy usually prescribed for endometriosis.

Many women who have hysterectomies experience significant problems as a result. The most obvious of these occurs when the ovaries are removed together with the uterus menopause begins abruptly, with its attendant difficulties and discomforts, because the body is suddenly deprived of estrogen. This hormonal loss in turn can lead to a greatly increased risk of bone mass loss, which often precedes osteoporosis, and to an increased likelihood of heart disease, as well as depression, urinary tract problems, joint pain, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and fatigue.

Even women who retain their ovaries often experience a drastic reduction in estrogen production, and menopause comes earlier sometimes years earlier than it would have naturally. This is believed to be because the supply of blood to the ovaries is disrupted and decreased by removal of the uterus. Over half of women who have ovary-sparing “partial” hysterectomies experience early menopause.

Another problem common among women who have undergone hysterectomy is diminished sexual interest and desire after surgery. Research indicated that one third of all women who have hysterectomies find their sexual desire and enjoyment greatly diminished. Removeal of the ovaries may result in loss of sexuality because they secrete about half of woman’s supply of androgens, hormones that are responsible for sex drive in both men and women.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Adopt a hypoglycemic diet; eat plenty of foods that are high in fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains, and high-fiber fruits, plus fish, skinless white turkey or chicken breast, soy products, and low-fat yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese for protein. Eat starchy foods in moderation only. Do not consume any refined sugar, white flour, alcohol, processed foods, saturated fats, or foods containing artificial colors, preservatives, or other additives. Eat six to eight small meals spaced regularly throughout the day, rather than two or three larger meals.

 

Avoid caffeine, coals, dairy products (except for low-fat soured products), processed foods, red meat, and sugar.

 

Use vitamin e to help prevent incisional scarring and relieve itching and discomfort in the area surrounding the stitches. Open a vitamin E capsule and apply the oil along the incision (but not on the stitches themselves).

 

If you are pondering a hysterectomy, give the matter close and careful consideration. Seek wise counsel and second opinions. Check into alternative treatments. Remember, once the operation has been performed, it is impossible to restore the uterus if you find the symptoms unacceptable or unbearable. The results of a hysterectomy are irreversible.

CONSIDERATION

Women over forty who have hysterectomies performed often have their ovaries removed as well, supposedly as a precaution against the later development of ovarian cancer. However, many health care professional question the logic of doing this ovarian cancer is relatively rare.

A hysterectomy usually requires four or five days in the hospital followed by approximately six weeks of at home recuperation. Recovery can be more painful if the surgeon make sa vertical incision as opposed to a horizontal one. In addition, the scar that results from a vertical incision acts as a lifelong reminder of the surgery (a horizontal incision can be hidden below the public hairline).

 

Evidence is mounting that there is a higher incidence of cardiovascular disorders smong women who have undergone hysterectomies.

 

Some doctors advocate performing hysterectomies on women with fibroid tumors because they say that the fibroids block access to other ovaries during pelvic exams, which might delay a possible diagnosis of ovarian cancer. This position is no longer valid, however, because technology allows the use of ultrasound technology to examine the ovaries for any abnormality. If fibroid tumors need to be removed, a myomectomy should be considered and opted for if at all possible.

 

There are instances in which hysterectomy proves advantageous. Some women manage to avoid the major hormonal changes that are so common after surgery, and in addition to no longer being bothered with monthly menses, they may feel liberated because they no longer need to fear becoming pregnant and have more fulfilling sex lives as a result. However, these women are probably in the minority.

 

While over half of the women who have their ovaries left in place still experience drastic estrogen loss, this is not always permanent. A vitamin and mineral supplement regimen can reduce the risk of severe estrogen deprivation. Remember the natural estrogen promoters.

 

If you do require hormone replacement to control symptoms after a hysterectomy, take the lowest dose possible. Ask your doctor for a combined hormone containing estrogen and progesterone to help reduce the risk of cancer.