Most women believe that once they have a hysterectomy, their endometriosis and its symptoms will completely disappear. What happens is that sometimes endometriosis can persist after hysterectomy and the disease can continue to worsen or progress. It’s a little hard to imagine how endometriosis can still happen after hysterectomy, but there’s a perfectly good explanation for this. In fact, this all goes back to what endometriosis really is.
Endometriosis is a disease wherein the endometrium or endometrial implants spread and grow outside of the uterus. These implants can grow and disrupt the blood flow to other organs like the fallopian tube or the ovaries. Endometriosis can also worsen and produce complications like endometriomas and ovarian torsion.
Endometrial implants are fast growing and fast spreading, which means that they can easily spread even after the uterus has been removed from the body. In fact, the symptoms that you may be experiencing, like pelvic pain and menstrual abnormalities, are more likely the result of endometrial implants invading the ovaries and the fallopian tube and not due to the endometrium growing inside the uterus.
Recurrence of endometriosis after hysterectomy is actually quite common. Around 10% of women who had a hysterectomy for endometriosis usually experience recurrence within one year of their surgery while 40% experience recurrence within 5 years.
Preventing Endometriosis After A Hysterectomy
There are several ways to prevent the recurrence of endometriosis after surgery. The first option is to talk with your doctor about the option of having hormone replacement therapy after the surgery. Studies have shown the hormone replacement therapy may help prevent or postpone recurrence of endometriosis. It can also help the patient deal with the early menopausal symptoms that are often associated with hysterectomies. However, there have been cases that hormone therapy might speed up recurrence instead of preventing it.
The other option is to have the ovaries removed in addition to having a hysterectomy. There’s a big chance that endometriosis can recur as long as the ovaries stay because they keep supplying the body with hormones that also encourage these cysts to grow. With the uterus and the ovaries gone, there’s no place of the endometrial implants to develop.
However, this type of procedure can cause abrupt premature menopause. Premature menopause can cause symptoms like hot flashes, headaches and anxiety. It can also increase a woman’s risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. That is why it’s extremely important to talk with your doctor on whether this type of solution would work for you.
Another way to prevent endometriosis recurrence after hysterectomy is to make some lifestyle changes. Studies have shown that certain lifestyle factors have a big effect in the development of endometriosis and the intensity of the symptoms. Stress and anxiety often can make endometriosis symptoms worse. An unhealthy diet, chemical exposure and lack of exercise have been linked to the increased rates of endometriosis development.
Proper stress management, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking, a healthy diet, and exercise are just a few ways that you can help prevent the recurrence of endometriosis after a hysterectomy. The results may not be immediate, but they can improve your health in the long term.
If hysterectomy is your only option in treating endometriosis, always remember that the risk of recurrence for this disease is pretty high. That’s why you should discuss with your doctor and develop a plan on what you should do if endometriosis returns after a hysterectomy. Preparing beforehand does not mean that you’re sure you will have endometriosis again. Preparation allows you to anticipate what would happen if recurrence does occur so you can be prepared to treat this disease quickly and effectively.
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