If you are suffering from endometriosis, you likely have run across hysterectomy surgery as a method to treat endometriosis. A hysterectomy is an option to treat severe endometriosis. While endometriosis symptoms are most debilitating and troublesome during your reproductive years, you can still suffer from symptoms after menopause. Although your periods have stopped and estrogen has declined, your ovaries still produce a small amount of estrogen that may cause endometrial-like tissue outside of your uterus to thicken and bleed. So, it begs the question: Is hysterectomy a cure-all for endometriosis? Let’s dive in to understand endometriosis after hysterectomy.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the uterus is removed. When a woman has a hysterectomy, she will no longer have periods and will lose the ability to get pregnant. Hysterectomies performed to treat endometriosis aim to eradicate all endometriotic tissues. This surgical procedure can be done abdominally, laparoscopically, or vaginally.
There are different types of hysterectomies:
Partial hysterectomy – Removes only the uterus.
Total hysterectomy – Removes the uterus and cervix.
Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – Removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Radical hysterectomy – Removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, the upper portion of the vagina, and some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. This procedure is typically performed to treat cervical or uterine cancers.
Will I see improvement in my endometriosis pain after hysterectomy?
Maybe. Some women do report their symptoms significantly improve after having a hysterectomy. However, studies have indicated that 62% of women still report symptoms of endometriosis after partial hysterectomy. Because the ovaries still produce small amounts of estrogen after menopause, endometrial-like tissue can still cause significant pain. Therefore, women tend to report greater improvement in their endometriosis after total hysterectomy with the removal of their ovaries.
Ideally, the gynecological surgeon who performs the procedure will also remove any endometrial-like tissue from surrounding tissues and organs in the pelvis to eliminate further pain, scarring, and adhesions. If you are still menstruating and you have a hysterectomy with ovary removal, you will officially be in menopause as your ovaries no longer are producing hormones to drive a cycle.
If you are exploring having a hysterectomy to treat your endometriosis, it is important to know that a hysterectomy is a major surgery. You will be put to sleep with anesthesia and will likely have a hospital stay following the procedure.
As with any surgery, there are risks. It is important to talk about these risks with your gynecologist to determine if the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks. Prior to pursuing surgery, talk with your doctor about non-surgical options as well, such as hormone therapy and pain management. Also, consider reaching out to other women who have had hysterectomies to treat endometriosis.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.