LOS ANGELES (Ivanhoe Broadcast News)
- Created: September 16, 2005
- by: admin
Each year in the United States, 600,000 women will have a hysterectomy. American women are twice as likely to have a hysterectomy as women in England and four-times more likely than women in Sweden. So are American women right, are these invasive surgeries really necessary? Some doctors say no.
By age 60, one in three American women have had a hysterectomy, but Norma Jean Welter says she won’t be one of them. “I still have in the back of my mind hope that I’ll get pregnant. I’m only 37,” she says.
Her doctors disagreed; they told her it was the only solution. She has uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths in the uterus. “[My doctor] was very adamant. ‘Sorry, Mrs. Welter, but your only option is going to be a hysterectomy.'”
UCLA’s Bruce McLucas, M.D., an OB/GYN at The Fibroid Treatment Collective in Los Angeles, says women hear those words often. “I hear it all too many times that, ‘I’ve gone to see two, three, four doctors. They’ve all recommended hysterectomy.'”
With hysterectomies, doctors remove the uterus and sometimes the ovaries. Twice as many younger women have them as older women, often to treat uterine fibroids.
“Hysterectomy is not an easy procedure to recommend, and it shouldn’t be the first thing we talk about with our patients,” Dr. McLucas says. One alternative for treating fibroids is embolization. In this treatment, particles are injected into uterine arteries where they block blood flow to the fibroids and cause the fibroids to shrink. Other alternatives include medications, hormones or conservative surgeries.
Welter had the embolization treatment done on her fibroids. They shrank 70 percent and kept her dreams for a baby very much alive.
Additionally, in America, women in the southeast have hysterectomies more often than anywhere else in the country. Dr. McLucas emphasizes there are times when hysterectomies are indeed necessary, especially when dealing with cancer.
For the original version of this article: Unnecessary Hysterectomies
As an educational service, members of the FTC provide questions and answers regarding fibroids. Please note that the questions and answers are not medical advice and there is no substitute for diagnosis and, where appropriate, treatment by a qualified and licensed physician of your own choosing.