At what age do doctors allow women in the USA to have a hysterectomy?
For women of reproductive age, hysterectomies are the second most often performed procedure in the U.S. There are several reasons why a woman might choose to have a hysterectomy. It can be because of uterine fibroids, heavy and persistent vaginal bleeding, cancer, or conditions like endometriosis. Basically, it can be because of any severe and chronic ailment concerning the uterus, ovaries, cervix, or endometrium that is majorly detrimental to a woman’s health and quality of life. A hysterectomy is a major, life-altering surgery, so it is not a procedure that should be taken lightly.
Technically, any woman of legal age can consent to the procedure, but it should be medically justified. It’s incredibly unlikely that a doctor will perform a hysterectomy on women ages 18-35 unless it is absolutely necessary for their well-being and no other options will suffice. This is because of possible physical and emotional risks. Complications during surgery can include infection, hemorrhaging, or bladder or bowel damage, but the risks of these are rather low. Long-term, it can increase the risk of stroke, bone loss, heart attacks, urinary issues, and early onset menopause in younger women. Possible complications that can impact a woman’s sex life includes vaginal dryness and a lack of interest in sex. It also prevents the possibility of a biological pregnancy, which can cause depression and psychological stress in some women.
The National Women’s Health Network believes that many hysterectomies are unnecessarily putting women at risk and that all alternatives should be considered before the procedure is done. If you are a woman, particularly of a younger age, looking into having a hysterectomy, make sure you consider the long term complications and consequences listed above. Seek out a doctor that listens carefully to your concerns and respects your decisions about your body.
Check out NWHN’s fact sheet on hysterectomies for more information on the risks of this procedure. There is also more information on the types of hysterectomies performed.
If you or a woman you know has had a hysterectomy or considering one and needs emotional support and advice from women who are in a similar position, here is a forum that might be helpful.
Visit these women’s health sites for additional information on hysterectomies.
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