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hysterectomy surgery and side effects

The sad reason more Aussie women are feeling forced to cut out their uterus

An alarmingly increasing number of women in their 30s are opting to have their uterus surgically removed from their bodies because their periods are simply too heavy, too painful, and too intense to bare.

Hysterectomies can be a life-saving medical procedure in many cases, including for women with conditions such as uterine cancer.

It involves the removal of a woman’s uterus and, in some cases, other reproductive organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

It’s an extremely rare phenomenon a woman would be able to fall pregnant naturally following a hysterectomy. It is, in effect, a fertility-ending procedure.

If a woman had cancer, a hysterectomy might be absolutely necessary.

But, in Australia, hysterectomies for women in their 30s are a growing trend. They are one of the most commonly performed surgeries, and 1 in 3 in Australia are undergoing elective hysterectomies that are not related to cancer.

Instead, they are choosing to have a hysterectomy because they are finding their periods too hard to manage.

Imagine yourself in the prime of your reproductive years, facing irreversible decisions about your health and future.

The compounding number of women opting for hysterectomies in their 30s, given the known risks, is a sad trend that has left both medical professionals and women themselves seeking new answers.

Even sadder is the fact that many of the symptoms of your period ARE, in fact, reversible through simple, and effective changes to your hormonal health.

There are natural, science-based, and proven methods that help women experience a less painful, lighter period. I’ve seen it with my own eyes unfold for women in the FlowFit Challenge.

For example, Rosie, 37, has both endometriosis and adenomyosis with a period she described as a “crime scene”.

Her mother and grandmother both shared her cycle struggles and both had a hysterectomy after children to relieve the intensity feeling they had no other option.

Read more about her story in the Instagram post below.

 

Now, to be clear, I’m NOT shaming women who have undergone a hysterectomy to manage their period pain or heaviness.

The point I am making that is particularly sad is that this trend of elective hysterectomy to reduce period pain or heaviness, as I’ve heard from so many of the women who are turning to the FlowFit Challenge as a last resort, is often opted for, by women who are often not fully aware of their choices ahead of surgery.

If you need a hysterectomy to treat a deadly condition or disease, you need a hysterectomy.

If you are considering a hysterectomy because your period pain is so bad, you need to know that there IS another way.

And to work out whether or not you should be considering a hysterectomy, you need to understand more about what it is.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of a woman’s uterus, and in some cases, other reproductive organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

This surgery can be a:

  • total hysterectomy – this procedure removes the entire uterus and cervix, with your ovaries and fallopian tubes remaining.
  • hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy – this procedure removes your uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • sub-total hysterectomy – this procedure removes your utereus only, leaving your ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix remaining.

Reasons why women opt for hysterectomies

Traditionally, hysterectomies were primarily recommended for alarming medical conditions such as uterine cancer (including cancer or pre-cancer of your cervix, uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes), the most severe cases of endometriosis, or uncontrollable bleeding.

Women have also typically been given the option of having a hysterectomy to reduce the risk of a prolapse or chronic pelvic inflammatory disease.

However, the emerging trend shows a significant number of women opting for hysterectomies to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with their menstrual cycles.

This shift may be attributed to a lack of awareness regarding alternative treatments or a desire for a faster fix to the monthly discomfort.

Potential side effects of hysterectomies

While hysterectomies can be a life-saving procedure in certain cases, they come with inherent dangers and risks.

Research shows that the risk of severe complications from hysterectomy procedures in Australia ranges from 3.5% to 11%.

It’s a major surgical operation that requires a woman to go under general anaesthetic, followed by at least 3 days in hospital and at least a month to fully recover (more than some major surgeries).

Of course, surgical complications, infections, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia are potential risks associated with a hysterectomy (and with any surgery in general).

But more specifically, the removal of the uterus can have profound physical and emotional implications, impacting a woman’s identity, body image, and overall well-being.

The psychological effects of losing reproductive organs can lead to feelings of loss, grief, and even depression.

Additionally, the sudden hormonal changes resulting from the removal of the uterus and ovaries can trigger menopausal symptoms, impacting bone health, cardiovascular health, and sexual function.

Women who undergo hysterectomies often experience a range of side effects, both immediate and long-term.

Short-term risks

  • surgical pain
  • changes in bowel and bladder function
  • altered pelvic support
  • abrupt hormonal changes (leading to things like hot flushes, mood swings, and a decrease in libido)
  • anaesthetic complications
  • blood transfusion
  • DVT
  • injuries to other organs

Long-term risks

  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis
  • early menopause
  • prolapse
  • incontinence
  • sexual dysfunction
  • constipation
  • coronary heart disease

What can I do if I have a painful or heavy period?

Instead of resorting to the extreme measure of a hysterectomy, women can explore natural alternatives to manage and alleviate menstrual pain.

As a hormonal health expert, I advocate for a holistic approach that focuses on improving overall well-being and hormonal balance.
Some natural changes you can make include:

Dietary Changes

Adopting a well-balanced cycle-specific diet rich in nutrients can positively impact hormonal health. Prioritising anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids – at the right times – can help regulate hormonal fluctuations and reduce menstrual pain.

Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular, cycle-specific physical activity has been shown to alleviate menstrual pain by releasing endorphins, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being. Activities such as yoga and weights and walking can be particularly beneficial.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbal supplements, such as chasteberry and turmeric, have been associated with reducing menstrual pain and inflammation. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating any herbal remedies into one’s routine.

Stress Management Techniques

Chronic stress can exacerbate menstrual pain. Implementing stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can contribute to hormonal balance and pain relief.

What are your next steps?

Firstly, know that heavy and painful periods are signs of hormonal imbalance.

There are some incredibly crafted natural hormone-balancing programs available today like the FlowFit Challenge that offer real solutions for women’s health issues and may prevent the perceived need for invasive procedures.

Secondly, it’s imperative that you share this article with family and friends considering such a life-altering decision.

And thirdly, continue to demand more comprehensive, integrative approaches to women’s health care. Your body, your health, and your future deserve nothing less.

I’m sure no woman (and particularly no mother) wants to freely cut out her defining organ for the sake of it given the potential dangers listed above but also feel so helpless with the tools they’ve so far been given.

As a hormonal health expert, I advocate for a comprehensive understanding of the reasons why your body seems out of alignment.

As women, do we simply not know enough alternatives?

As a society, are we too quick to cut bodies open before try exploring all avenues?

If you’ve been in this situation but felt as trapped as the many women I know who have been, did you feel there was enough help out there for you BEFORE you made a decision?

There are clear and obvious reasons why you may need a hysterectomy. It is a procedure that has proven effective for certain medical conditions, and saved lives along the way.‌

And there are also natural solutions to your period pain that can help you avoid the potential dangers and risks associated with hysterectomies.

I repeat: There are solutions to extreme period pain that do NOT involve removing your reproductive organs and ending your chance of falling pregnant naturally.

Please, continue to explore alternative avenues before resorting to such an extreme measure.

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