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2/26/2009

'Jeanne's Endo Blog': Hysterectomies Are Over-Performed In The U.S. ---- My Comment Posted On The February 26th Newsweek Article "Female Trouble"...

This post is in regard to a Newsweek article about hysterectomies.

Today I received a Google alert for an article related to the search term "endometriosis".

The article is called "Female Trouble".

To be honest, I've never been a big fan of the phrase "female trouble". After all, when men have prostate problems or testicular cancer, no one goes around labeling it "male trouble", right??

So this Google alert got my attention with the title of the Newsweek article alone.



While I wasn't so crazy about the title, I was pleasantly surprised by this article:

"Female Trouble"


Here is the comment I posted on the Newsweek site in response to this 2/26 article about hysterectomies:

Newsweek is to be congratulated (!) for educating the public that hysterectomy decisions are serious and permanent!

This article wisely takes note of the fact that too many hysterectomies are performed in the U.S.

I have met women who have had hysterectomies in the hope that it would help them feel better (with their endometriosis symptoms), only to proceed to have further, serious problems AFTER a hysterectomy! Their doctors led them to think they’d get relief that did not happen. The grief this caused them emotionally on top of the persisting physical problems is significant! Once your uterus is gone, it’s gone. There’s no going back.

Deciding to have a hysterectomy is a very serious decision to make.

Patients, don't be afraid to seek out a 2nd or 3rd opinion if a doctor suggests you get a hyst.

My local support group members have found this organization (see below) helpful for researching alternatives to hysterectomy. This site is a resource for any woman considering having a hysterectomy (not just endometriosis patients).

HYSTERECTOMY ALTERNATIVES AND AFTEREFFECTS
HERS FOUNDATION: Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services


I have had doctors talk about hysterectomy as an option for me over the years, due to my endometriosis and other GYN conditions. (I am 40 years old and my endometriosis started at age 13). I have elected not to have a hysterectomy for a variety of reasons. (There is no cure for endometriosis, by the way).

Many people believe hysterectomies cure endometriosis. That is a MYTH.

I would urge women thinking of having a hysterectomy to research your options and seek out multiple opinions BEFORE jumping into a hysterectomy.

As this article concluded:

Hysterectomy IS a serious and permanent decision.

Thank you, Newsweek, for letting people know MORE about hysterectomies than they might have before they read this article!

Jeanne
Blog address: Jeanne's Endo Blog
* March is ENDOMETRIOSIS AWARENESS MONTH!!! *

This article was posted by Jeanne via "Jeanne's Endo Blog" at www.endendoat.blogspot.com.

6 comments:

Yaya said...

I was actually one of the naive who DID think that a hysterectomy would "cure" my endometriosis before you told me about this (awhile ago).

I think a lot of women think this way, which is unfortunate that they would go through with such a drastic procedure to help their health and find out that in the end, it didn't make a difference.

Jeanne said...

Alicia,

It is a VERY common myth! There are still, in 2009, doctors telling women that a hysterectomy will "cure their endo". There is no cure for endo.

I have heard the horror stories from women who had hysterectomies and got SICKER rather than BETTER.

I have seen the tears. I have heard the regrets. I have heard the stories of women who would do anything to "un-do" their hysterectomies.

Obviously there is no option to "un-do" a hysterectomy.

It saddens me that the medical community as a whole is still "murky" on this issue... that there are still so many doctors "pushing" hysterectomies on women that really don't want them.

I've talked for hours with women who DID NOT want a hysterectomy but felt desperate from pain and thought, "maybe I should get one"... only to cancel their surgery multiple times when their gut told them, "no".

I've heard about the struggles of so many women on this subject.

I was really pleased that Newsweek hit home that it is a SERIOUS decision to have a hysterectomy and that it has a PERMANENT result.

There's no going back.

I am not "anti-hysterectomy" or "pro-hysterectomy". I am "pro-patients-need to make informed decisions".

Too many patients have hysterectomies that their doctors either suggest or "push" on them... only to regret it later because they were not informed of the possible risks, after-effects, and repercussions.

There are times when patients, for whatever reason, are well-advised to have a hysterectomy.

HOWEVER, it is ***CRUCIAL*** that patients make informed decisions. If that means getting 2 or 3 or 4 medical opinions, that's OK. If it means the patient listening to her gut, that's great.

I have heard too many harrowing stories of the profound negative effects hysterectomies can have on some patients.

From what I understand in reading things over the years, hysterectomies are pretty good "money-makers", as far as surgeries go.

The fact that so many are performed is alarming. The average age for hysterectomy cited in the article is alarming too.

I hope this article helps educate the public about the fact that deciding to have a hysterectomy is a "serious and permanent" decision with lifelong consequences.

There is no cure for endometriosis.

By the way, a woman I know from the local endo group had a hysterectomy at a young age (early to mid 30s) and is now in her 50s.

She tells me that she went through "surgical menopause" after the hyst but then proceeded to go through menopausal symptoms AGAIN once she reached the age she expects she would have had her "natural menopause".

I doubt if many doctors inform their pre-hyst patients that they may experience menopausal symptoms twice!

Jeanne

Sonja said...

Wonderful post!

I had an LSH (removed uterus only) hysterectomy in Nov 2008 due to adenomyosis (not endo). I'm 24. It was a very hard decision to make, and one that I will live with forever. It was the best option in my case, I have no regrets, but I would never, ever wish having to make such a decision on anyone. No one could ever prepare me for the emotional turmoil I am dealing with now.

It breaks my heart that women are told that having a hyst will cure their endo when it won't, and left with both pain and emotional fall out.

Jeanne said...

Sonja,

First, let me say that I'm so sorry you have had to struggle so much! I am so very sorry for the emotional turmoil you are having now. I remember reading your blog a couple of weeks ago. I'll have to stop back. I'm so sorry for everything you've been through!

The good news is that you are "at peace" with it. What I mean by that is you said "I have no regrets" and that is huge.

I have met many women who, decades after a hyst, had regrets. At least you don't have that particular mental anguish on top of what you're already going through.

It breaks my heart too! I've been in local endo support groups since 1992 and I have heard some sad, sad stories. The pain and emotional fallout when a woman thinks a hyst will "cure" her endo and then she feels at least as sicker or sicker afterwards... it is immeasurable!

I've had 6 laparoscopies and 1 laparotomy. The doctor for one of my surgeries noted in my operative report that I have:

"a large, boggy uterus"
"probable/suspected adenomyosis"

It was my understanding from what my doctor said to me years ago that adenomyosis is when endometrial tissue is found WITHIN the uterine lining (not tissue on the inside wall lining of the uterus where it belongs but WITHIN the muscle wall of the uterus).

Does that description mesh with what you were told about adenomyosis?

Thank you for your comment. I hope you have a fantastic day!

Sonja said...

"Boggy" was the exact term my specialist used to describe my uterus.

Jeanne said...

Sonja,

That's what I thought you might say. At the time, I was led to believe that the only way they can diagnose adenomyosis 100% for sure is by dissecting the uterine wall (which can't be done without removing the uterus). Is that your understanding??

I have had bleeding problems over the years that are above and beyond even what many of my fellow endometriosis patients describe.

I once bled every day for over a year... from August of 1994 through August of 1995. Even "male hormone" medication did not stop the bleeding. The very experienced doctor I was seeing at the time had never seen anyone keep bleeding while on that male hormone. I did.

I believe I have adenomyosis, based on what my doctor told me in 1996 after my laparotomy (major surgery) was performed.

Jeanne

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