Why Hysterectomy should be the last choice, not the first.
The first thing that should be noted here, is that hysterectomy does NOT cure endometriosis. I am not shy in saying that I am anti-hysterectomy. While there are some good and valid reasons for having this operation, there are many other reasons why a woman should not. I intend to discuss these points below.
In the words of Dr. Stanley West, author of "Hysterectomy Hoax":
"You don't need a hysterectomy. It can do you more harm than good. Those are strong words, but the fact is that more than 90% of hysterectomies are unnecessary. Worse, the surgery can have long-lasting physical, emotional and sexual consequences that may undermine your health and well-being."
Why you should NOT have a Hysterectomy
In the past, Hysterectomy was performed on women without their knowledge or consent, and who only became aware of this devastating turn of events when they woke up from the anaesthetic to find their lives altered forever. These days things have changed somewhat, and women have informed consent available to them, but exactly how informed is that consent? Hysterectomy is so widely used that it is often unnecessary, and often takes precedence over much better and less invasive treatments, but it's quick, it's cost effective, and it's easy. How many women are offered this treatment unnecessarily, when it is not indicated, just because it's the easier option? It is widely accepted that a woman's uterus is deemed no longer useful if a woman's family is completed. However, this does not take into account the vital role your uterus plays in your overall health, and its contribution to your wellbeing and sexual health. In my opinion, the only reasons a woman should have this operation is uterine, ovarian or cervical cancer, severe uterine prolapse that does not respond to uterine suspension techniques, or adenomyosis. (Having said this, I have severe adenomyosis and have chosen not to have a hysterectomy and would rather live with painful periods than suffer the devastation of side effects following a hysterectomy).
Hysterectomy is not appropriate for women with endometriosis because endometriosis occurs mostly outside of the uterus, in the pelvic cavity, adhering to organs and structures adjacent to the uterus. Removing the uterus does not remove the disease as it is still present systemically and in organs and structures. Sudden surgically-induced menopause is not the same as naturally occuring menopause, where hormone levels gradually and naturally decline. Sudden cessation of certain hormone production can cause devastating effects. Even if one does not undergo removal of the ovaries, your hormones will still be affected because ovaries will begin to atrophy. Even women who only have one ovary removed can experience these symtoms and studies have shown that women who leave one ovary following surgery can still continue to experience ovarian failure. Symtoms can include fatigue, joint pains, decreased short term memory, loss of libido, hot flashes, hair loss, brain fog, insomnia, feelings of rage, inability to achieve orgasm, bladder problems and urinary incontinence, thyroid dysfunction, suicidal thoughts, night sweats, depression, increased allergies, decreased resistance, weight gain and many others. It seems a shame to spend your whole adult life trying to balance your hormones to improve your endometriosis only to make matters worse by having a sudden and irreversible operation. If you are having trouble balancing your hormones, then I recommend this site: Women to Women.
You may find that synthetic hormones, prescribed to make you feel better, actually make you feel worse, and before you know it, you feel like you are spinning out of control, in a downward spiral of ill-health. Do not opt for the most radical, irreversible choice first. Always try everything else before you make a decision to have a hysterectomy, such as uterine resection, excision surgery, and natural, bio-identical hormones. Whenever you visit a doctor's surgery, there are tons of leaflets and information about hysterectomy, but very few regarding alternatives to it. Hysterectomies are performed at a staggering rate in this country, but you seldom hear about the women left behind after the surgery. Maybe they atrribute their feeling of ill-health to aging or the disease process, and maybe they don't realize that the surgery is what has led them to feeling so bad, but once the surgery is performed there is little that can be done to reverse it.
Alternatives are not usually offered, due to expense and lack of skill. Endometriosis requires excision surgery, for which few doctors are qualified. Likewise, fibroids require myomectomy but hysterectomy is offered all too easily if the doctor feels he does not have the skill to perform such surgeries. If the first option a doctor offers you is a hysterectomy, then walk out the door. Find a surgeon who is willing to work with you and offer less radical options first.
Imagine this scenario: you are diagnosed with endo, painful periods and heavy bleeding and your doctor prescribes you a course of Lupron. You take the Lupron for six months, during which time you suffer terrible side effects of bone pain, joint pain, depression and fatigue. At the end of six months the Lupron stops but the side effects continue and the pain of endo returns. You go back to the doctor who recommends a hysterectomy, so you, forever trusting and desperate for relief, agrees. After the hysterectomy you suffer sudden surgical menopause.....night sweats, fatigue, crying spells, joint pain....on and on and on. You go back to the doctor who pats your hands and tells you you have to live with it, and prescribes you an anti-depressant and some HRT. The anti-depressant itself has a myriad of nasty side effects, and the HRT has a long list of them too, so now you have all that as well as all the problems post-op. Then on top of everything you discover you simply don't have the desire to have sex anymore. When you do you are unable to reach orgasm. You're exhausted, frustrated, sick and still in pain. Still want to have a hysterectomy? If you think this scenario is unusual, think again. This is happening to women all over the country, every day. The untold suffering of women having unnecesary hysterectomies is massive and incalculable. But there is an alternative.
Take charge of your health. Don't take the first advice you are given. Research everything to see if it is right for you. Don't take synthetic hormones. Find a surgeon that will work with you and be willing to perform conservative surgery on you first, to see if that helps. Take only natural bio-identical hormones. Exercise as much as you can. Cut out all unnatural junk foods and eat quality nutrition.