Hysterectomy Linked to Later Incontinence
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
Although serious complications after hysterectomies are estimated to occur in around 6 women per 10,000 surgeries, it does substantially increase a woman's risk of having urinary incontinence, but often not until years after she has her uterus removed.
Researchers found 45 previous studies which looked at this association, and then narrowed these down to 12 studies which met very rigid selection criteria. From these studies, they determined that:
- Among women age 60 and older, those who had a hysterectomy were 60% more likely to become incontinent than those who did not have the surgery.
- Overall, women who had a hysterectomy were about 40% more likely to develop incontinence.
- Dr. Jeanette S. Brown, of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues recommend that women who are considering a hysterectomy should be made aware of the potential risk for incontinence.
- She notes that about 90% of the time a hysterectomy is used to treat non-cancerous health problems like vaginal bleeding and benign growths in the uterus.
"Women need to decide how much their uterine symptoms are affecting their quality of life today," Dr. Brown stated. "Women should weigh what the immediate benefits are of a hysterectomy versus the long-term risks later in life."
Hysterectomy is the second most common type of major surgery, being performed on more than 600,000 women in the US each year.
About 40% of all women in the US will have a hysterectomy by age 60.
For unknown reasons, the increased risk of incontinence appears to strike women years, or even decades, after having a hysterectomy. The researchers note that this may occur because hysterectomies may cause damage to nerves and other parts of the pelvis that may take a while to cause incontinence.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Like most surgical procedures, the number done vastly exceeds the number who really need the intervention. There are clearly women who need their uterus removed but they are few and far between. The unfortunate tragedy that occurs with most women is that many have their ovaries removed with the same procedure as it seems to be the "standard of care". This is usually done to prevent ovarian cancer. The problem with removing the ovaries though, is that it virtually eliminates the possibility of a woman ever being able to normalize her hormone function naturally. If one can optimize the adrenal glands, they can stimulate the ovaries to produce the appropriate levels of female hormones. This will reverse most cases of menopausal hot flashes and optimize the bone density.
Also, if you are told that you need a hysterectomy, make sure you get at least one other medical opinion. Very often, women who were told that they needed to have this done, find out that it may not be necessary after all.
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