Contrary to popular belief, undergoing a hysterectomy does not necessarily mean removing all of the gynecologic organs, such as the cervix, tubes and ovaries. In fact, a study in 2005 suggested that women undergoing a hysterectomy may retain their ovaries up until age 65 if the ovaries are normal and there is no family or personal history of cancer. Unlike the uterus, which is only for childbearing, the ovaries produce estrogen, the hormone necessary for bone and heart health. Even after menopause, the ovaries continue to make a small amount of estrogen. Similarly, the cervix, which is the opening to the uterus, may be left in place prior to menopause if the patient desires and there is no history of abnormal pap smears or concern for cancer. Leaving the cervix in place may help maintain normal pelvic support and structure after a hysterectomy; however, this has yet to be scientifically proven.
Multiple studies have shown that 95 percent of women who undergo a hysterectomy are highly satisfied afterward. Women who underwent a hysterectomy had a greater increase in their quality of life over women who chose non-surgical treatments instead. However, medical treatments have advanced in recent years just like surgical treatments. Ask your physician if there are alternatives to a hysterectomy prior to undergoing one. Patient awareness and satisfaction is of utmost importance when making the decision to undergo a hysterectomy.
Dr. Kelly Wright is a minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody. She completed her residency training at Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals and fellowship training at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in a nationally renowned minimally invasive gynecologic surgery program. She is available for consultation for many types of advanced minimally invasive gynecologic surgical procedures, including hysterectomy.