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Understanding a Hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus. Women may need a hysterectomy due to endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer, or uterine prolapse. Sometimes a hysterectomy is needed to save your life, other times it is to restore health and quality of life.
Depending on your condition, your doctor will determine which type of hysterectomy is right for you. A hysterectomy can encompass removal of your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the top portion of your vagina. The types of hysterectomies include:
- Total Hysterectomy — Removal of your uterus and your cervix, but not your ovaries. This is the most common type of hysterectomy.
- Hysterectomy with Oophorectomy — Removal of your uterus, and one or both of your ovaries.
- Hysterectomy with Salpingo-Oophorectomy — Removal of your uterus, one or both of your ovaries, and your fallopian tubes.
- Radical Hysterectomy — Removal of your uterus, cervix, the top portion of your vagina, most of the tissue that surrounds the cervix, and sometimes the pelvic lymph nodes.
- Supracervical Hysterectomy — Removal of your uterus, but not your cervix.
Only a surgical removal of your ovaries, which produce estrogen, will cause you to go into menopause immediately. If your ovaries were not removed during a hysterectomy, you might experience hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms temporarily following surgery. Symptoms are caused by the disturbance of the blood supply to the ovaries during surgery, but they should lessen as you heal.
Symptoms of Menopause
Menopausal symptoms vary widely and in intensity from woman to woman. When ovaries are surgically removed, you often experience exaggerated symptoms compared to if menopause occurred naturally. Talk to your doctor to see if short-term hormone therapy is an option to reduce the symptoms of menopause. If you kept your ovaries during your hysterectomy, you will start to feel symptoms as you enter menopause, or your doctor can run a blood test to check hormone levels.
Your symptoms may include:
- Bone density loss
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry skin and hair loss
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings, depression, and irritability
- Racing heart
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
If you are entering menopause because of a hysterectomy, you may also experience a sense of loss. It isn’t unusual for a woman to feel an emotional loss, talk to your doctor if you are having difficulty after surgery.
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