Sunday, November 2, 2008

Know Your Options

Six years ago, I had to have a full abdominal hysterectomy.

If that sounds extreme, it was--this was by no means a "simple procedure" to me. I was hesitant about going through with the hysterectomy. This was major surgery. I would no longer have my uterus or my ovaries. Some questions, like how it would affect, say, my sex drive, my doctor had no ready answer for. In his experience, some women experienced drastic changes, and for some life went on much as before, without the pain they had been going through.

I decided to have the surgery.

Not a day goes by, honestly, that I don't wonder whether I did the right thing. I'm one of those women who changes drastically.

For instance, I'm very sensitive to hormonal imbalances. Hormones are a very delicate thing, and once thrown out of balance it's hard to put them back again. Six years later, and I'm still struggling with estrogen and going back and forth on antidepressants to counteract the effects of too little or too much, and my thyroid is out of whack so I take medication for that as well. It has all just been so much more than I was prepared for.

The thing is, I don't think you can really know which woman you are going to be until after you've had the surgery, when it is too late to go back and change.

Fast forward to today. Did you know that 1 in 4 women today have a hysterectomy? One. In Four. Twenty-five percent. That statistic blows my mind.

And if you didn't know that, and I didn't, maybe you also didn't know that there have been significant advancements in women's procedures in the last few years, even just since I had my hysterectomy.

My point? Today, there are options, and I wanted to make sure you all knew about them.

That's why, when Mom Central approached bloggers about AAGL (The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists), I knew right away I wanted to be a part of this tour.

The AAGL wants you to know about those options.

For instance, many times, you don't need a hysterectomy at all. And even when you do, you can opt for laparoscopic procedures that leave the cervix and the ovaries intact. And laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive, with less scarring than traditional surgery, requiring much shorter hospital stays and offering faster healing time for you, so that you can get back to your life the way it was before surgery much sooner.

You don't have to have that "all or none" mentality any more.

And yet, even today, approximately 85% of women who have a hysterectomy have the surgery done abdominally rather than laparoscopically.

Why? Simply put, because women don't always know the options available to them for their conditions. And that's why the AAGL is the perfect starting point for those women--one of whom may be you.

So if you are suffering--maybe from fibroids, or very heavy periods, or endometriosis like I was--make sure you do your research before deciding on a procedure that could change your life forever. Be an educated and informed consumer, research your options, and take an active part in determining what alternatives are out there for you.

Here's what to do: Go to the AAGL site, and search for your condition. This lets you see what options are out there for you.

And even if you aren't suffering, maybe you could bookmark their site, and let other women know about it. It's a really valuable service, and even if you aren't in this position today, remember that 1 in 4 statistic, and keep the AAGL in mind, just in case.

It's your life, and your health. Know your options.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Very interesting read. I had my total hysterectomy vaginally this past August and I will never regret it. For the first time in my life I am n ot anemic ;) The pain was unbearable prior to surgery. But as you said it is different for each woman.

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