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Hysterectomy Is Often Performed Unnecessarily, Says New Study

By Rebecca Odes |

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.

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About Rebecca Odes

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Rebecca Odes

Rebecca Odes is a writer, artist and mother. She was inspired to write her blog, From The Hips, during her first pregnancy when she discovered every pregnancy book she came across made her feel anxious or irritated. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

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6 thoughts on “Hysterectomy Is Often Performed Unnecessarily, Says New Study

  1. Melissa says:

    First of all, I personally know very little about this operation and its short- and long-term effects.

    That said, given that this study was sponsored by an insurance company, I immediately have significant concerns about the credibility of this info. It’s not much of a secret that insurance companies will do whatever they can to cut costs, and if they can cut down on a major surgery like hysterectomy, there’s no doubt in my mind that they will find every way possible to advocate for that.

  2. Jennifer Moore says:

    ok this article really scares me because I am a 25yr old that had a complete hysterectomy 2years ago because I had surgery 4times n 1 year for cysts on both of my ovaries. Plus I have diagnoist @ 14yrs old with Endometriosis & had the laproscopic surgery twice to remove scar tissue. My doc did not inform me of all the risk just told me that hysterectomy was my only option to stop my pain.

  3. Norawc says:

    This is all about information, informing doctors and women about the important life long functions of the female organs. The uterus is much more than a reproductive organ, it is a hormone responsive sex organ that supports the bladder and the bowel, and it provides structural integrity to the pelvis.

    In addition, the uterus and ovaries provide cardiovascular protection. When the uterus is removed women have a 3X greater incidence of heart disease, and when the ovaries are removed the incidence is 7X greater.

    The Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation would like to work with Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Michigan to lower the rate of unnecessary hysterectomies. HERS video, “Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs” at http://www.hersfoundation.org/anatomy has been successful at educating women about the important life long functions of the female organs, and what happens when the female organs are removed.

  4. Jackie says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve known several women that have had hysterectomies.. and in fact they’re doctors dragged their feet due to insurance and other political garbage. My mother should have had one done years before they actually did it. Her uterus was 3 times too big and was filled with cysts, and the doctors took their time in finally suggesting the surgery, all I can think is she could have been pain free years before that. I’ve got too sisters in-laws that eventually had to have hysterectomies after spending money, time, energy, and lots of pain before their doctors finally suggested the surgery. I do think their are doctors/hospitals that are too gun-hoe on pain meds and surgeries, but other times I think if someone needs it badly enough that you shouldn’t drag your feet. Every women is different as is her condition.

  5. Kelly says:

    I’m not exaggerating — my hysterectomy was the best thing that ever happened to me.

    I had three choices: i) to live in constant pain and take pain medication that worked poorly, made me stupid, and gave me high blood pressure, ii) to take hormones that made me clinically depressed, or iii) to have a hysterectomy.

    My GYN didn’t want to do the hysterectomy because he has been on the receiving end of much criticism about doing too many of them. But I talked him into it. The other choices were just too hard for me to live with.

    So I had the hysterectomy. Sure, it hurt, sure it took four weeks to recover from, but now I live a normal, pain free, productive life. I hate to think of women being refused hysterectomies when it can be the quickest route out of pain and sickness into health and happiness.

  6. Michelle Martin says:

    I wanted a hystercetomoy, but the Insurance Company won’t cover it. I’ve been dealing with pain for the last 9 months and I’m a high risk for Ovarain Cancer and Uterien Cancer. It runs on both sides of my family I’ve had to Aunts pass away form this in their early 40′s and 50′s. Yes I have year check ups but My Aunt had a check up and the Cancer must of showed up 7 months after she was checked and was told everything was ok. I’m really afraid for me and at my age (48). I can’t seen to get the insurance company to ok this. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to do the curgery to prevent any cancer, then for them to pay out for cancer?

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