I have made my peace with endometriosis being a way of life. I am sort of OK with it, just like I accept vegan cheese, or that one day somebody will remake “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It’s a quiet, slightly mistrusting acceptance.
Yet when I am in such pain that I yell for strong drugs that no one will legally hand me, there is little acceptance. Sometimes I beg for the impossible: a cure. Other times, all I want is for the universe to send a magical storm that wipes my uterus away while I happily wave it goodbye. It is during those debilitating periods that I consider a hysterectomy as the only way out of this cruel illness.
A hysterectomy is generally offered to endometriosis patients as a last resort. While it is a common treatment in some countries, hysterectomies are not performed as often here in the U.K.
Types of hysterectomy and what they involve
A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the womb and cervix. Other types also include removing the fallopian tubes and/or the ovaries. A radical hysterectomy takes away everything mentioned above, along with the lymph nodes, fatty tissue, and parts of the vagina.
Most endometriosis patients have a total hysterectomy, keeping their ovaries. This is done to stop them from going into menopause.
Some patients, however, will choose to have their ovaries removed. Patients who go into menopause after a hysterectomy generally take hormone replacement therapy later.
A hysterectomy means no more pregnancies
Keeping one’s ovaries can enable motherhood through a surrogate, but it is a drastic step. I speak to fellow patients almost daily and hear a fair share of hysterectomy stories.
Some women had the procedure and had to face the reality of never becoming pregnant. Others are desperate for a hysterectomy that’s repeatedly denied to them by doctors who believe they will regret the decision. It seems an unfair position for any patient, whether they want to become a mother or not.
A hysterectomy is still not a cure
Yes, there are success stories of women who feel much better after a hysterectomy. However, these positive changes are often temporary. When patients report being symptom-free, it does not mean the illness is no longer present. Endometriosis symptoms are not directly linked to the amount of adhesions or to the extent of the disease.
It’s also worth noting that a hysterectomy is a huge procedure. It leaves patients at high risk of developing scar tissue, another main source of discomfort.
I sometimes dream of having a hysterectomy. While my most painful symptoms may be somewhat suppressed right now (thanks progesterone!), it is not a permanent solution.
For endometriosis patients, any hormonal treatment is a temporary fix
Quitting my pills means coming face-to-face with my endometriosis. It’s not that my periods are simply bad. They are a harrowing bloodbath of gargantuan proportions. It’s no way to live.
I don’t long for the days when I turned into the long-lost cousin of the creature of the swamp — except with no swamp and severe blood loss.
Life without my hormones is scary. And while I am not completely against a hysterectomy, it is a daunting prospect with no guarantees. I can’t help feeling deflated and a tad hopeless. Shouldn’t there be something better for the millions of us living with this disease?
Have you considered a hysterectomy? Have you had one? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.