Right now I find it ironic that three of my friends are preparing for or have just had a full hysterectomy. Many of you may not know this but I had a full hysterectomy in September 2007. I had suffered with endometriosis and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) for most of my adult life. The combination of the two is what lead me to have infertility.
After years of suffering from painful periods and terrible PMS I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis when I was in college. I had heavy periods and painful PMS and Menstrual pain. During my cycle I was literally out of commission for a week or more. As I aged my cycles got worse. By the time I was 34 I had several surgeries to remove the endometriosis and remove cysts.
When I was 29 I gave up the hope of getting pregnant and soon thereafter we started our journey to adoption. I was a new Mom and my menstrual cycle was out of control. I was bleeding 3 out of 4 weeks a month and I was always exhausted. I had no energy to keep up with my 18 month old baby and that is when I decided to take my health into my own hands.
I researched the benefits of a hysterectomy and found a qualified gynecologist that I liked and went to see him. I quickly fell in love with his bed side manner and together we decided this is what was in the best interest of not only me but my entire family. I ruled out trying an ablation and put my faith that a hysterectomy is what would be the best for my body. I scheduled the surgery and there was no looking back.
What is a Hysterectomy?
It is the surgical removal of the uterus. It may also involve removal of the cervix, ovaries, Fallopian tubes and other surrounding structures.
A Hysterectomy may be total (removing the cervix and uterus; often called "complete") or partial (removal of the uterine body while leaving the cervix intact; also called "supracervical"). The ovaries and Fallopian tubes may be removed in either a complete or supracervical hysterectomy. The surgery will result in a woman being unable to bear children after it has been completed.
I had a supracervical hysterectomy (I kept my cervix) but they took my entire uterus, both ovaries and my Fallopian tubes. I am glad that I had them take my ovaries because now I have no risk of ovarian cancer and that gives me great piece of mind. I really pushed to have my cervix removed but at the time we were able to do my hysterectomy laproscopically so we decided with no history of cervical cancer that we would leave it.
How can you prepare for a hysterectomy?
If possible find a gynocologist that you are comfortable with. Having a hysterectomy is difficult for most women because it is so final. After you have it you will not be able to have biological children. For me that that was not a part of my decision or equation even though I was young (34) at the time of my surgery.
My Dr. has an amazing bed side manner, takes the time with me that I need and was available via the phone whenever I needed him. He was in the second part of his career meaning that he no longer delivers babies and was another reason he was a great fit for me.
Next is surgery. I kept calling it a "procedure" and my Dr. was quick to inform me NO this is surgery. You will be in pain after and you will have to spend a week recovering. You will be prescribed pain medication to help alleviate discomfort. Patients may also need to urinate through a catheter that is inserted into the bladder for up to several days after.
The recovery time varies depending on the type of hysterectomy procedure that was performed. Be sure to discuss this with your Dr. before your surgery so you can be prepared for any restrictions (such as driving and lifting). Normally you will have to take two weeks without lifting anything more than a gallon of milk and without driving however this can vary based on your Dr.
A hysterectomy that includes the ovaries being removed will cause a woman to go into menopause. You need to prepare for this before your surgery. My suggestion is to research your options. You can take a synthetic hormone replacement therapy that your Dr. prescribes or you can take all natural hormone replacement therapy.
My advice is read as much as you can and decide for yourself which option you prefer. I would suggest you read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause by Dr. John Lee. I personally would encourage you to consider natural hormone therapy.
Other ways to prepare:
I would prepare as many freezer meals as possible prior to your surgery.
Get childcare because you will need it.
Take off 2 weeks from work (if possible).
Stockpile before your surgery so you won't have to go to the grocery store for several weeks.
Ask for help! Tell your friends and family you are having surgery and take the help they offer you.
In closing I just want to say that even though I had my hysterectomy at only 34 it was the best thing I have EVER done for my body in my life. If I had it do over again I would have my hysterectomy again. The only change I would personally make is that I would educate myself more prior to surgery instead of after surgery on the effects of menopause. I would still have had both of my ovaries removed. If you are going through the same thing I did please feel free to leave a comment here. I am happy to try to help.
If there is interest I would love to share my journey to all natural hormone relief if there is interest.
If there are any other "hyster-sisters" out there - welcome to the club!
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