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Women's Health

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Should I Have a Hysterectomy?

When a Hysterectomy Won't Help

Sometimes, pelvic pain isn't caused by a problem in the uterus.

"In the past 5 years or so, we've begun to understand that there may be causes of pelvic pain that aren't related to the pelvic organs, but may instead be caused by problems with the muscles and ligaments in the pelvis," Summers says. "In this case, a hysterectomy would not solve the problem."

Removing your uterus also won't stop bleeding that happens because of a hormone imbalance.

Your doctor should give you a thorough pelvic exam as well as an ultrasound and an MRI, if necessary, to pinpoint what's causing your pain and to help you decide if surgery is an option.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

If your doctor finds that your uterus is the source of your pain or bleeding, ask yourself these questions before scheduling a hysterectomy:

Are my symptoms seriously affecting my quality of life? If not, any benefits you might see may not be worth the risks that come with surgery.

Are there other treatment options? Depending on your particular problem, you may find relief from pain medications, hormone therapies, or other less-invasive treatments. "I encourage women to explore all nonsurgical options before deciding to have a hysterectomy," Summers says.

Do I want to have a baby? Since a hysterectomy permanently removes the uterus, you won't be able to have children after this operation.

Will my health insurance cover it? Hysterectomies are sometimes considered "elective" rather than necessary surgeries, so it's important to check with your insurance company before scheduling one.

Who can help me while I recover? Depending on the way your doctor does the surgery, you may need anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months to recover completely. During that time, you probably won't be able to lift things, shop, care for your kids, or go to work, so you'll need to have people who can help with your usual tasks until you're back on your feet.

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Reviewed on July 01, 2014

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