The uterus or womb, which nurtures and gestates a growing fetus till it becomes mature enough for delivery, can also become the source of life-threatening complications that require surgical intervention. There are at least three prominent reasons why a hysterectomy (uterus removal) might be recommended by a doctor: fibroids, cancer, and endometriosis.
For unknown reasons, muscle and tissue may solidify and create rubbery masses within the muscular uterine wall. The vast majority of women tend to develop fibroids by the time they reach 60 years of age, but for the better part, the growths remain benign and non-cancerous.
Fibroids Tend to Develop in Four Distinct Ways:
- Within the Muscular Uterine Wall
The endometrium may develop rubbery growths that tend to stretch and enlarge the womb.
- On the Outer Wall of the Uterus
These fibroids project uterine tissue into the surrounding pelvic space and the womb occupies more space and leans on the adjoining organs.
- Suspended on Stems
Also called pedunculated fibroids, these are masses of uterine tissue that bulge inwardly and outwardly starting from a tubular base.
- Within the Lining Facing the Uterine Cavity
This develops as a thickening of the inner lining of the uterine wall that protrudes into the uterine cavity.
Complications Created by Fibroids
Fibroids that bulge into the uterine cavity may cause infertility. They may also disturb placental growth and interfere with gestation and the delivery of a baby.
The lesions or scars cause severe discomfort, heavy bleeding, and agonizing pain during menstruation, aside from extending the duration of periods. The heavier than normal loss of blood during menses results in anemia.
Fibroids that grow externally tend to cramp adjoining organs, creating painful and delayed urination, fecal incontinence, abdominal swelling, and pain.
People in the Following Categories Are at High Risk of Getting Fibroids
- Women with family members who have a history of susceptibility to fibroids
- Black women, especially those in their thirties
- Overweight women
Depending on the seriousness or recurring nature of symptoms, hysterectomy might be recommended to eliminate distress.
With approximately 100,000 new cases registered annually resulting in around 30,000 fatalities, cancer affecting the reproductive organs has become a woman’s greatest scourge. The most common cancers are those affecting the cervix and the endometrium.
Much depends on the stage at which gynecologic cancer is detected. Early detection makes it possible to tackle cancer aggressively before it spreads.
The flat, scaly cells and glandular tissue of the cervix sometimes develop abnormally creating cervical cancer, a diagnosis that troubles not less than 12,000 women annually in America. The risk factor in the majority of cases is a virus known as the Human Papillomavirus or HPV, and cancer develops after prolonged infection. A sharply pungent vaginal discharge and odor, excessive bleeding, and painful intercourse are the symptoms.
Women who are diabetic and obese are more likely to develop this form of cancer. The condition is the most prevalent of all cancers affecting the female reproductive organs. Higher levels of the female growth hormone estrogen circulating in the blood without the balancing action of progesterone seem to activate this kind of cancer.
Vaccination of prepubescent girls and Pap smears are useful in preventing and (if that’s not possible) detecting cervical cancer in its earliest (treatable) stages. Ultrasound is also instrumental in detecting anatomical changes in the reproductive system that may remain hidden. The physician may recommend a hysterectomy as a last resort to prevent the spread of cancer and for the early termination of distressful symptoms.
This is a potentially serious condition in which the inner lining of the uterus starts growing on the outer surfaces of the reproductive organs opening into the pelvic cavity. This can happen on the surface of the uterus as well as that of fallopian tubes and ovaries.
The endometrial tissue starts swelling, shedding, and bleeding, just like it does within the uterus during the menstrual cycle with the rise and fall of the female reproductive hormone called estrogen. But unlike the uterus where the blood flows through the cervix into the vaginal passage and outside, the endometrial tissue facing the pelvic cavity has no escape route.
The end result is excessive pelvic inflammation and pain, especially during menstruation. The condition may also cause pelvic organs to develop scar tissue where they come into contact with endometrial cells.
When the pain and discomfort become acute and recurring in nature, a hysterectomy becomes the only viable life-saving solution for the patient.