Nearly One in Five Hysterectomies Are Performed Needlessly

The hysterectomy, a surgery that removes the uterus, is commonly used to treat uterine fibroids, gynecologic cancer, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain. After the cesarean section, it’s the second most commonly performed surgery on women. Though it destroys patients’ fertility, it can be a life-saving operation.

However, a new study suggests that one in five women who underwent the hysterectomies may not have needed to.

According to Dr. Daniel Morgan of the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study’s findings “provide evidence that alternatives to hysterectomy are underutilized in women undergoing hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids, endometriosis or pelvic pain.”

Though rates of hysterectomy in the U.S. are falling, there are still more than 400,000 of the procedures carried out each year in the United States. Yet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’s guidelines state that health care practitioners recommend patients with gynecologic disease undergo other treatments, like endometrial ablation. Hysterectomy should really only be a final option.

For their study, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers set out to analyze whether these guidelines were being followed, and whether the pathology following a hysterectomy supported the need for one.

The researchers found that a startling 37.7% of women had no documentation that they’d undergone an alternative treatment before undergoing a hysterectomy. Even worse, the researchers’ pathological findings following surgery among 18.3% of women — nearly one in five — didn’t support the need for a hysterectomy.

Basically, the study’s finding suggest that doctors aren’t following guidelines, that more than one in three women didn’t undergo an alternative procedure before having their fertility destroyed, and that one in five women didn’t even need a hysterectomy.

If your doctor recommends a hysterectomy, you may want to get a second opinion.

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