I used to almost gasp when I heard that a woman had a hysterectomy.
I would think, “How terrible!” or “Poor Thing”. I assumed that no woman would ever want her uterus or other reproductive organs removed unless there was a severe reason. But then I found out that it doesn’t always require a medical emergency situation and that sometimes, it’s the one option that can change a woman’s life for the better.
Why did you have a Hysterectomy?
There was no emergency birth or cancer or anything like that. I had simply had enough of excruciating monthly periods and daily discomfort. I had my tubes removed during the birth of my youngest child because I was 100% sure that I was done having children. After a visit to my OBGYN and an examination of my symptoms and reproductive history, the recommendation was clear.
A hysterectomy was my best option for improving my quality of life and resolving the ongoing pain I’d experienced since I was 12.
What was the source of your pain?
I suffered from Adenomyosis (scar tissue fused my uterus to my bladder and other areas from my multiple C-sections), Endometriosis (tissue growing outside of my uterus) and Fibroids. These conditions contributed to my heavy periods with debilitating cramps. In addition, urinating was uncomfortable and even sometimes painful.
What did you have removed as part of your Hysterectomy?
The doctor removed my uterus and then excised all of the spots of Endometriosis in my pelvic cavity as well. In order to remove my uterus, my doctor had to detach it from my bladder, where it fused during recovery from my most recent C-section. I did choose to keep my cervix and my ovaries.
Why did you keep your cervix and ovaries?
Removal of the cervix is standard when getting a hysterectomy. That allows for the uterus to be removed through the vagina, as the cervix is the lower part of the uterus. Then the doctor seals the vagina with stitching that creates a “cuff”. Removing the cervix prevents Cervical Cancer as well as the possibility of breakthrough bleeding or a “mini period” due to potential endometrial tissue growing on the cervix after surgery.
However, since Cervical Cancer originates from HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and I don’t have that, and because my cervix was healthy, I asked that it remain in place. The risk of a mini-period is low and I was willing to take my chances.
I kept my ovaries because I am 38, they are healthy, and this will prevent me from going into menopause early. At some point if it makes sense to remove them down the road after menopause, or if I start having issues with cysts or potential for cancer, the doctor will remove them.
Did they cut you open to do the surgery, like a C-section?
No. My surgery was done laparoscopically with a robot-assisted machine called the Da Vinci. My surgeon worked through the machine which has three rods inserted through small incisions around my belly and through my belly button. This allowed her to see on a screen and navigate the intricate parts of my system with delicate precision.
Some hysterectomies cannot be done laparoscopically due to the reason for the surgery, including a larger-sized uterus or other complications. Then there is a larger incision. Because I kept my cervix, the doctor enlarged the incision in my belly button a little bit. This allowed for my uterus to be removed in pieces through that location.
How long did you have to stay in the hospital?
I stayed overnight and went home the next day by lunchtime. Some hysterectomies are outpatient procedures, and others require more time in the hospital, based on the needs of the patient.
How long is the recovery process?
That really is dependent on the patient and how they are healing. In general, doctors recommend 6-12 weeks, give or take. I struggled to rest right after I got home from the hospital (I had kids who needed me!) but tried harder over the next couple of weeks. I get fatigued at times but feel stronger every day. My doctor cleared me at around 3 weeks to return to work full-time, as I can work from a computer. Some women need to take off work for several weeks, depending on their surgery, their type of job, and their recovery needs.
How did you prepare your house and family for your surgery?
I was honest with the kids and let them know that their help was needed while I recovered. We taught them additional recipes and food prep tasks. Also, we gave them some more responsibilities while I was unable to do things around the house. My mom and I also prepared some frozen meals and other items so that meals as stressful. We even had takeaway meals set up from a local restaurant.
Do you regret having your hysterectomy?
I truly don’t. I am so grateful that my reproductive organs gave me my amazing children, especially since I also struggled with miscarriages and other painful experiences in the years prior to my babies being born. Honestly, I never considered a hysterectomy until I was told it was my best option; my plan was to deal with the pain for more years to come.
Ultimately, I am at peace with my decision and look forward to a much-improved quality of life!
What resources or support is available for someone thinking about or having a hysterectomy?
Here are some that I found helpful:
*There are likely many more resources and support groups. Please share in the comments if you have any recommendations!*
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