Hysterectomy has always been a controversial surgery, but many doctors see it as necessary. Now Blue Cross Blue Shield has begun a campaign to reduce hysterectomy rates, after their study determined that as many as two out of three hysterectomies performed could have been avoided.
Two out of three?? That’s a horrifying statistic when you’re talking about major surgery and the removal of women’s reproductive organs. There seems to be a sense that the uterus is disposable after a women is done with its reproductive purpose: making babies. But hysterectomy is a serious procedure. In addition to the surgical risks and recovery, hysterectomy often has lasting hormonal side effects. Not to mention the obvious side effect of not being able to carry any more children. Early hysterectomy also raises a woman’s chance of heart disease. (Elizabeth Taylor had a hysterectomy at age 36.)
Surgical removal of the uterus is usually recommended to treat uterine problems like fibroids, or endometriosis. Sometimes hysterectomy is the best treatment option, but there are other options. The Blue Cross, Blue Shield investigation in Michigan determined that there was a wide variation in hysterectomy rate among doctors. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan initiative will encourage doctors to share information with patients about less invasive options. Elsewhere, the procedure itself is becoming less invasive, with the advent of new technologies like robotic and laparoscopic surgeries.