Get a Second and Third OpinionIt is recommended that you get more than one opinion when your doctor suggests a hysterectomy. You may have a trustful long-standing history with your doctor and feel horrified that we suggest such a thing! This isn't a slap in the face for your personal physician but a smart thing for every patient to do.
Set up an appointment with a different surgeon in a different practice and even perhaps in a different town. Take your records with you but also ask for an exam. Ask if the first recommendation is appropriate. Ask for alternative suggestions.
Get a third opinion. You might find the third suggests an even less invasive solution.
Consider these points:
The key is for you, the patient, to get all the information you can before you agree to surgery. You cannot change your mind once the surgery is done. There are no money back guarantees if the surgery is not the cure for your problem. Be smart. Do your homework.
It is suggested that a hysterectomy is your last resort after you have explored all other options and treatments.
Keep Your Ovaries and/or Cervix?It seems it wasn't too long ago that when a doctor recommended a hysterectomy, the removal of cervix and ovaries were assumed to be part of the surgery. Today you may have options and decisions to make about keeping your ovaries and cervix.
If your ovaries are healthy, you may be in better shape, now and 20 years from now, by keeping them. It isn't always easy for HRT to duplicate the hormones produced by the ovaries. This is not a decision to be taken lightly or for the convenience of avoiding future surgery. If you need your ovaries removed later, it's a much less serious procedure--and you will have had that extra amount of time with your original equipment.
Many women are finding that keeping the cervix may have added benefits if it's healthy and there haven't been abnormal pap smears or disease. The cervix helps support the pelvic floor, is the source for some types of orgasm and may provide other benefits as well.
Talk frankly with your surgeon and discuss your concerns. HysterSisters suggests keeping healthy organs if possible! Take your time and explore all your options. Be informed and make your decision based on what is right for you with the help of your surgeon.
Possible Questions to Ask at Your Pre-Op Appointment1. How long will surgery take?
2. Exactly what will be removed? Uterus, ovaries, tubes, cervix, appendix? (How will these organs be removed? Through abdomnial incision? Through the vagina? With the help of a laparoscope?
3. How long will I be in the hospital?
4. How long will I be on bed rest?
5. Will a pathology report be done of all the organs removed? I do want one done.
6. How long for the results of the pathology report to come in? (If cancer is suspected, when will I begin cancer treatments and what options are there?)
7. If I'm taking BC pills or HRT, do I stop taking them prior to surgery? If so, how long before?
8. What medication will I be on for pain in the hospital and when I am home?
9. Will the doctor make a bladder tack? What is a bladder tack? (If you have incontinence, this is the time to bring it up as this is the best time for bladder and/or rectum repair)
10. Will the doctor use a tummy binder on me? Will I need one?
11. If my ovaries are being removed, when will I start hormones (HRT)? Most important: will the doctor help me to adjust if needed or should I see my family doctor to help with this?
12. If I am keeping my ovaries, how will I know if they are working post-op? if they shut down temporarily and I experience hot flashes, how long will I endure menopause symptoms before the ovaries kick back in?
13. Will I need any preparation before surgery? (enema, stool softener, liquid diet, etc)
14. When will I be able to resume driving?
15. How long will I be off work?
16. Will I be able to lift my baby? If not, how much can I lift safely at 4 weeks, at 6 weeks?
17. When can I return to the gym?
18. I take certain meds regularly (list your meds, including over-the-counter meds and supplements), will I be allowed to take these to the hospital with me?
19. I've heard that there is a problem with gas after surgery and have been told that Over-the-Counter medicines such as Gas-X can help. Is it OK if I take some along to the hospital with me?
20. What kind of anesthesia will I have?
Prepare For Your SurgeryDuring your pre-op appointment you will probably be given instructions on how to prepare for your surgery. It's important to keep those instructions handy and refer to them as the date gets nearer.
Every surgeon handles pre-surgery preparation differently. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. If these instructions do not include bowel-prep (enema and bowel clean-out) do not give yourself any treatment without specifically asking your surgeon.
Generally speaking, you should eat light meals during the 24 hours before surgery and you must stop eating and drinking within 12 hours of your scheduled surgery. Do not take any medication that you have not specifically informed your hospital and surgeon about. This includes supplements and herbs.
Nail polish removal is usually requested prior to surgery - fingers and toes.
Do not shave your pubic area unless you have been told to do so. Most doctors and hospitals have their own procedures and generally do NOT want patients shaving themselves.
If in doubt about the preparation instructions, call your hospital or doctor's office and ask them. Your surgery could be cancelled because you failed to follow instructions.