One Out of Five Hysterectomies in U.S. May Have Been Unnecessary
As many as one in five women who have received hysterectomies in the United States may not have needed the surgery, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Each year, over 400,000 American women receive a hysterectomy. The procedure, which removes the uterus, is used to treat or prevent certain types of cancer, and is one of the most common surgeries used to treat uterine fibroids. Though it can be life-changing and/or life-saving, it obviously destroys a woman’s fertility, which means, as the study suggests, that doctors needlessly obliterate at least 80,000 women’s chances of having children each year.
The study also suggests that despite the significant decrease in the number of hysterectomies being performed each year — a decline of 36% between 2002 and 2010 — many physicians are still reluctant to use less-drastic alternatives to treat benign uterine conditions.
“This study provides evidence that alternatives to hysterectomy are underutilized in women undergoing hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic pain,” said senior author Daniel M. Morgan, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U-M Medical School.
Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends several alternatives to the hysterectomy, such as endometrial ablation, hormonal management, and operative hysteroscopy. Yet, the study found that almost 40% of women didn’t receive documentation detailing alternative treatments prior to their hysterectomy.
“There are a lot of alternative options out there that can be used instead of doing a hysterectomy,” lead author Lauren Corona told MinnPost.com. “So, for me, these findings were really surprising.”
Corona also urged women to get a second opinion if a doctor suggests a hysterectomy, adding that “physicians need to try and calm their patients’ fears and let them know that hysterectomy isn’t necessarily the best option.”