Experiencing gynecological problems isn’t an easy phase to go through. It is even tougher when surgery might be required as it can often carry a whole other set of decision making issues. When a woman is experiencing a medical problem that requires surgery, it usually ends with the dilemma of “should I have surgery or should I try another type of treatment”. But when it comes to a gynecological issue, it is often accompanied by the heavy issue of reproduction.
Depending on the specific disease or problem in the reproductive system, the solution might be surgery, which can put an end to a woman’s option of barring children, sometimes making the decision to have surgery even harder. In this article we will take a look at some of these conditions and solutions for these types of problems and also take a look at gynecological surgery as a means for a woman to become sterile.
There are a number of different types of cancer a woman can get that will affect the reproductive system and may require surgery. There are four main types of cancer that can affect the female system: cervical cancer, fallopian tube cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer (also known as uterine cancer).
The specific treatment for all these types of cancer will be determined by the exact location of the tumor, its size, the stage of the cancer and if it has spread to additional parts of the body. The first option of treatment, if possible, will usually be the surgical removal of the tumor. The treatment may also include chemotherapy and radiation following the surgical procedure. The problem arises when the removal of the tumor also includes the removal of the organ it has developed in.
Once the surgical option is available, the question of “complete or partial” removal arises. In most cases the oncologist surgeon will prefer to perform a complete removal of the cervix and uterus, to make sure all cancerous cells have been removed for the safety of the patient. The surgeon of course will include the patient in all the decision making and consultations, also inquiring about her intentions of having children in the future and if the situation allows it, the surgeon will take the patient’s preferences under consideration. If the patient hasn’t had children yet and would like to, the surgeon can weigh the option of partial removal in order for the woman to bear children in the future.
It should be said that there are cases, in which surgery will not be recommended due to the tumor’s stage or location and different treatments (chemotherapy, biotherapy, radiation treatments and clinical trials) will be tried.
Hysterectomy and Ablation as Gynecological Treatments
A hysterectomy describes a surgical procedure in which the female uterus is removed. After a woman goes through this kind of surgery, she does no longer have the ability to bear children and for this reason it is done only for a few medical conditions. A hysterectomy will be suggested when there is a condition of a large benign growth that is causing bleeding and pain for the patient, or when the patient is experiencing irregular, heavy and really painful menstrual periods. Cancer might also lead to a hysterectomy.
Before turning to the surgical option, the gynecologist will first try different treatments in order to manage the symptoms the patient is experiencing. However, if the medication is not helping and these symptoms are no longer bearable for the female patient, a partial or complete hysterectomy may be required. In a partial procedure, only the uterine body is removed while in a total removal the fundus and cervix are removed as well.
An Endometrial Ablation (the destruction of the endometrium of a woman’s uterus with the use of electricity or heat) is done to treat excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle (a condition called “Menorrhagia”). This condition can be caused by infections, severe cases of endometriosis, a benign growth or coagulation and hormonal disorders. As in the case of a hysterectomy, the physician will try other solutions than surgery first and recommend surgery as a last resort.
If it is decided to go through with this kind of procedure, a woman will no longer be able to bear children as she will no longer menstruate. For this reason, this procedure is not performed on women who are planning to have kids.
Surgery as a Preventive measure
This may come as a surprise, but as some women are trying to avoid these surgeries, others are choosing to have them willingly. In recent years, female patients are choosing to have an endometrial ablation in order to stop menstruating as they know they do not want to have kids and do not want to keep having monthly cycles. For the same reasons, women also may choose to have a hysterectomy.
In addition to those 2 types of surgery, there are other types of gynecological surgeries performed to prevent fertilization and pregnancy. Women choose to undergo surgery as a form of birth control and can choose to have a tubal ligation (‘having the fallopian tubes tied’) or a placement of Essure which blocks the fallopian tubes.