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 Homeopathy: Hysterectomy: A Second Opinion 
 
Remember that old Bob Dylan song, "Don't think twice it's all right"? That may be great advice in many situations, but when it comes to a decision about whether or not to have a hysterectomy, it's best to think twice and then twice again. The more informed a woman is about the pros and cons of having her uterus, and possibly ovaries, removed, the better chance she has of being happy with the outcome. The days of just going along with whatever the gynecologist recommends are hopefully over. There are situations where a hysterectomy is really the only way to save a woman's life, but these are rare. It is up to each woman to seek the information, professional advice, care, and support, and the inner wisdom to know what's right for her.

The startling facts about women and hysterectomies: l) Approximately fifty percent of the women in the United States will undergo a hysterectomy by age 70. 2) The average age for a hysterectomy in this country is 35.6 years. 3) Hysterectomy is second only to caesarean section as the most commonly performed major surgery in the United States - nearly one million each year. 4) About 650,000 hysterectomies are performed each year. 5) The medical term for removing the ovaries is "female castration". Approximately half a million women experience this surgery each year in the United States. 6) Ninety-eight percent of the women referred by HERS (Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services Foundation) to gynecologists for second opinions were told they did not in fact need a hysterectomy. 7) The hospital cost alone for hysterectomies alone in this country is approximately three billion dollars annually.

When are hysterectomies recommended? Women who are diagnosed with endometrial (uterine) cancer, ovarian cancer, or advanced stages of cervical cancer generally need a hys-terectomy as a life-saving measure. Other benign tumors, such as uterine fibroids or ovarian tumors, are occasionally so large that the tumor alone cannot be removed.

In my experience, I have seen uterine fibroids to be the most common reason for hysterectomies. Women often tell me, long after their surgeries, that their mothers and grandmothers also had their uteruses removed for the same reason. Some of these women have experienced fibroid-caused symptoms such as excessive bleeding, urinary problems, pelvic pain, or painful intercourse. Yet many women whose fibroids are diagnosed on a routine pelvic exam and who are asymptomatic still end up with hysterectomies. There are natural alterna- tives to surgery for uterine fibroids (see "Healing Uterine Fibroids" by my husband and myself, The New Times , August, l990). And, in most cases, even when surgery is necessary to take out the fibroid, it is usually possible to leave the uterus and ovaries.

Hysterectomies are also recommended to some women who have excessive bleeding during their perimenopausal period. Again, there are natural therapies which usually control the bleeding (see my article "Womenopause", The New Times, October, l990). These women are often told that they're not going to need their uteruses anymore anyway, so "Why not take them out?". They may also be urged to have their ovaries removed for the same reason. There are other women who have endured excruciating menses since menarche and feel relieved by the idea of ending their suffering early. A smaller number of women receive hysterectomies for more unusual conditions such as recurrent ectopic pregnancies or severe endometriosis.

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 About The Author
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND, MSWJudyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, MSW is a licensed naturopathic physician board certified in homeopathic medicine. She graduated with a degree in ...more
 
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