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Post Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy Side Effects: What Are They?

The side effects of hysterectomy can often be dramatic and distressing for women who have undergone the surgery. At one time, hysterectomy was one of the most commonly performed major surgeries in the United States. Medical insurers, who believed the procedure was being performed far more often than was medically necessary, instituted a policy of requiring a second opinion before they would cover the surgery. Unless the surgery is being performed to remove a malignancy, other medical treatments should be exhausted before hysterectomy is considered.

Currently, about 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year. The patients average in age from twenty to forty nine. The average age of patients for this surgery is rising as the population ages and more post menopausal women develop diseases of the reproductive organs. Women of child bearing age are more likely to suffer from severe post surgical symptoms than those who have already gone through menopause.

While many hysterectomies leave the ovaries in place, blood supply to the ovaries becomes diminished following surgery. This results in decreased levels of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone post surgically. The onset of menopause follows with in weeks of the surgery. Women who have undergone hysterectomy will suffer all the symptoms commonly associated with menopause.

The symptoms can include mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, heart palpitations, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, urinary incontinence and joint pain. Women who have undergone hysterectomy will also face an increased risk of heart attack, circulatory disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and certain cancers. The hormones secreted by the ovaries play an important role in women's overall health.

Before undergoing a hysterectomy, women should be apprised of all the possible side effects of the surgery. When possible, a woman facing a medically necessary hysterectomy should seek mental health counseling to help her deal with the emotional issues surrounding this surgery. Hysterectomies should not be performed without a compelling medical reason. No woman should consider a hysterectomy without a second opinion from a qualified physician.

Following hysterectomy, a doctor may treat the symptoms of menopause with hormone replacement therapy. The therapy most often involves synthetic or animal derived hormones. Women who have had a hysterectomy for cancer, may not be able to receive HRT because there is an increased risk of certain cancers associated with the therapy.

Alternative therapies, using naturally derived hormones are available. Bio-identical hormones have fewer side effects than synthetic or animal derived hormones. Bio-identical hormones, as the names suggests, are the same as the hormones a women's body normally produces. They can be used as treatment for women who have not had a hysterectomy, but who are experiencing health issues related to hormone imbalance.

Following a hysterectomy, women should keep track of their hormone levels. This can be done through a simple saliva test. Medical doctors specializing in holistic medicine often have the greatest knowledge of bio-identical hormone therapy; so if possible, women should seek out doctors with a background in holistic medicine.

Holistic medicine simply means to treat the whole patient, rather than simply treating the disease. Many women have found significant benefit from this approach. Bio-identical hormones are often plant derived rather than animal derived and can offer benefit without many of the risks associated with synthetic hormones.

Women considering a hysterectomy for a condition that is not life threatening should explore all their options before deciding on the surgery. Bio-identical hormone therapy may offer a less radical solution than hysterectomy. This is not an option for women with uterine, cervical or ovarian malignancies. Surgery offers the best odds for long term survival. For conditions such as endometriosis and fibroid tumors, a less radical approach may be a better alternative.

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