The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries-and their associated hormones- can be both friend and foe to women. They have the amazing ability to support a growing human person, but they also can cause pain, bleeding, and other miseries.
Sometimes conditions of the pelvic organs are just irritating, sometimes they are downright debilitating and endangering- such as when heavy bleeding causes anemia or when pain (from fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc) interferes with the normal activities of life or there are potentially cancerous cell changes of the cervix or uterus.
In every case, we attempt to do the least amount of intervention to get the most results. Often hormonal therapy or a minor surgical procedure to address the source of the bleeding or pain or the area of cell changes is enough to get people back to normal life.
When it’s not, and other methods have failed to get the desired results, we start discussing the need to remove the offending organs. The method by which we do that and exactly what the procedure involves is unique to your conditions, age, prior health and surgical history, etc. Again, we attempt to do the least invasive (least time, smallest incisions, shortest recovery) procedure we can to help you achieve your goals.
A ‘hysterectomy’ is the removal of the uterus. A ‘total hysterectomy’ is the removal of the cervix and uterus. A ‘salpingectomy’ is the removal of the fallopian tubes and a ‘salpingo-oophorectomy’ is the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. An ovarian ‘cystomy’ or ‘cystectomy’ is just the drainage or removal of ovarian cysts, leaving the ovarian tissue behind.
Discussion on how best to remove these organs and which are necessary to remove will take place between you and your doctor. Again, we use the least invasive method possible and remove only what we have to to address your symptoms and reduce your future risks. Throughout your visits, you will discuss the impact on your hormones and the risks and expected benefits of surgery.
Oakland Macomb OBGYN surgeons are available to perform vaginal, laparoscopic, robotic laparoscopic, and abdominal (open) procedures, depending on what is right for you and your situation.
These are difficult decisions, and we’re here to help you make the right ones. We understand how emotional it can be to consider removing your pelvic organs, especially if you are premenopausal or have not achieved all the biological children you had planned. Again, we’re here to help.
I will say that if you’ve been losing out on life, love, convenience, comfort for a long time- the relief after surgery can be substantial.
A good friend of mine, aged 33, went through a robotic assisted total laparoscopic hysterectomy + removal of remaining ovary last year with a different practice. She had suffered over many years with constant pelvic pain involving Polycystric Ovarian Syndrome and had lived through two ruptured ectopic pregnancies with multiple laparoscopic surgeries. She was generous enough to let me interview her. She feels compelled to share her story since she wants every woman facing this decision to know they are not alone.
She says about the moment when she finally made the decision to remove her uterus and ovary “I felt set free. The tears came fast and hard, but my battle was over. It was time for a different fight. Three months later, I met with my OBGYN and discussed “Me and My Hysterectomy” as I referred to that appointment. She gave me lots of scientific information. My husband wrote it all down so I could focus on listening. Then I searched the internet for all the emotional information that science had left out. I found one site that addressed it all: HysterSisters.com. Despite cringing at the name, the site had everything I was looking for: women’s stories of their hysterectomies. I learned so much. I was matched with a woman who was 6 weeks ahead of my operation and one who had nearly the same operation date. I wasn’t alone.”
About going through the surgery itself, she says, “The day of the surgery came. Before the prep began, I took my final pregnancy test. Strange hospital insurance rules demand one. But I think I needed one, too. That was the last time I would have to hear, ‘your pregnancy test came back negative.’ I smiled as the nurse gave me the news. It was over. I was ready….the surgery itself was quick. Before I knew it, I was back home. At my house, in my own bed, my own pajamas, and in my own time, I healed.”
And after the surgery, “It’s been 1 year and 4 months since my hysterectomy. I’ve navigated surgical menopause and come out a rational human being. I no longer have huge chunks of the month erased by pain. I don’t single-handedly keep the makers of Ibuprofen in business. I go through my day without once worrying about whether my insides are trying to kill me. And my scars are healed- all of them.”
I so appreciate her beautiful testimony and willingness to share it with us here. She and her husband are expecting their first baby, by adoption, at the end of this month. (Aunt Sarah cannot wait to spoil that kid rotten).
Of course, this is one person’s story and may be very different than yours. Everyone heals differently, some people are at higher risk for complications and require different management. It’s very individualized.
My friend found much comfort on the website, hystersisters. It’s wonderful to have the support and reassurance that you are not alone, HOWEVER, I will caution you that you might find some scary stuff online. As I’m sure you know, there is a lot of unreliable, inconsistent information on the internet. To my knowledge, this site is not managed by healthcare professionals and there might be inaccurate clinical information. And, depending on the quality of the site you’re on, you might find yourself wading through the specific details of individual’s experiences that don’t necessary bear relevance on yours. Plus, unfortunately, it seems that more people go online to air grievances than those who go on to celebrate their successes….just keep all that in mind while doing your research.
I wish more people like my friend and like our patients would plaster the internet with their experiences. We are fortunate to have wonderful providers who are skilled surgeons and give their patients excellent care- when I call patients postoperatively to check on them after hysterectomies, I hear things like “I can’t believe how good I feel” and “I’m really surprised I’m not in more pain.” We LOVE to hear things like that.
Of course everyone heals differently and results vary, but overall patients rebound well…and then after they’ve recovered, they get their lives back!
Thanks again to my friend for sharing her experience and all of you for reading.
As always, please consult your provider directly with any questions about your health and your healthcare. If you have any general discussions on what we discussed here, you can leave a comment or a message.