Monday, February 18, 2019

Inspire Me Monday #215: Hysterectomy Alternatives

In the past, hysterectomy has been the go-to option when things go wrong with the female reproductive system, particularly for women who are beyond their child-bearing years, even for benign but troublesome conditions such as fibroids. Many doctors, even good ones, still believe that hysterectomy is the best option for these issues, and sometimes it is. 
However, hysterectomy is not the simple little nothing surgery that medical professionals seem to want women to believe it is. Any major surgery comes complete with risks and significant recovery time, and, unless a condition is immediately life-threatening, I am one who believes in exploring alternatives before committing to having part of myself excised, even if it is a part which seems to no longer serve any useful purpose.
I have a collection of small fibroids taking up residence in my uterus. My OB/GYN believes that these fibroids are irritating the lining of my uterus, causing endometrial hyperplasia. She feels that I should have a complete hysterectomy to resolve this issue.
There are categories of endometrial hyperplasia: simple with normal cells, simple with atypical cells, complex with normal cells, and complex with atypical cells. Complex with atypical cells is the most worrisome variety and carries with it a 36% increased likelihood of converting to cancer.
If I had complex hyperplasia with atypical cells, I would already have had a hysterectomy. However, I have the least worrisome variety: simple hyperplasia with normal cells. This type has a 1.6% increased likelihood of becoming cancer. I believe it is overkill to undergo major surgery if other alternatives can resolve the condition.
I am going to contact an alternative treatment center tomorrow which specializes in a minimally invasive procedure called uterine artery embolization. This procedure involves injecting small particles to block the blood flow to the uterine arteries, depriving the fibroids of circulation. In most cases, the fibroids shrink within a space of three months and the problems they cause are resolved. The procedure is done under sedation rather than general anesthesia and involves only a brief hospitalization and an approximate two week recovery time, rather than the two months necessary to recover from a hysterectomy. 
Uterine artery embolization is not appropriate for women who wish to be able to have children in the future. I am post-menopausal, so this is not a consideration in my case. I am simply seeking to avoid major surgery if possible.
I feel that hysterectomy is too often the go-to method for resolving uterine health problems. There are certainly cases where it is appropriate, but I do not believe it should be the first line of defense for resolving a benign albeit bothersome issue.

The following link contains descriptions of treatments used to eradicate fibroids. It leads to a page on the Denver Fibroids website. If you are interested in finding a clinic in your area, type in your city and "fibroid treatment" or "hysterectomy alternatives." You might have to do a little digging, but don't give up. We are fortunate to live in a time when there are alternatives to major surgery for many health issues.

Disclaimer: I am not an affiliate or employee of the Denver Fibroid Clinic. The preceding information is not intended to replace professional medical advice. If you are experiencing problematic health issues, please make an appointment with a physician to discuss your options.


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