When you undergo hysterectomy, we say you’ve gone through surgically induced menopause. Now, when you’re living with fibroids, your main concern is treating your symptoms. You just want to feel like yourself again. As soon as possible. But sometimes, in your rush to find a cure, you don’t think about the consequences of the treatment option you select. Now, studies point out the toll that may take on your long term health. Especially if you choose hysterectomy, an option that leads to surgically induced menopause.
Surgically Induced Menopauses and Heart Disease Risk
So many women with fibroids choose to treat their tumors by having a hysterectomy. With this choice, you remove your uterus, automatically putting yourself into menopause. And once you enter menopause, especially if you do it before you turn 40, you’re at greater risk of osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke.
Those conditions are all pretty scary, but they don’t even pain your complete risk picture. In fact, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School, your risk goes up even more if your early menopause is brought on by surgery.
To reach this conclusion, researchers spent six years studying 144,260 women between the ages of 40 and 69. At the beginning of the study, the women completed a questionnaire about the details of their reproductive health. And, throughout the study period, researchers noticed the rate of coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, and narrowing of the arteries for all the women. They also checked up on the women’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, rates of diabetes, and any other health diagnoses.
What they found was startling. All women who entered menopause before turning 40 had higher rates of cardiovascular problems. But the women whose menopause was trigger by surgery were even more likely to develop heart health issues. And that’s not all: having an early hysterectomy triggers many other problems. Which is something Olivia Lichtenstein recently opened up about in the Daily Mail Online.
Adapting to the New You
While there is no shame in choosing a surgery for pain relief, Lichtenstein writes that she felt ashamed to discuss her procedure. “The onset of menopause shrouds women in a cloak of invisibility; add to that a hysterectomy and the folds of this cloak thicken and feel ever more inescapable,” she says.
Like so many women, Lichtenstein scheduled her hysterectomy to relieve fibroid pain. And, she was 55, had children and wasn’t worried about surgically induced menopause. (She’d naturally entered menopause a few years earlier.) Still, she says, it left her feeling like she was “missing the most vital part of [herself as a]women.”
Of course, for women who haven’t yet completed their families, the emotional toll is much worse. Now, fibroids may impact your fertility. Or your ability to carry pregnancy to term. But hysterectomy is often not the answer. In fact, many hysterectomies could be avoided, if you only explore other treatment options.
For some women, hysterectomies are medically necessary—especially if you are also dealing with a cancer diagnosis. But, for many women with fibroids, non-surgical treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization will be equally effective—and cause fewer additional health problems. So, before you choose hysterectomy, we urge you to explore all your fibroid treatment options. Especially the ones that won’t send you into menopause. And we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Houston area fibroid specialists today.