A hysterectomy can treat more severe cases of endometriosis. But it’s not necessarily a cure, as some people may still experience symptoms afterward.

A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus. It’s typically an option where more standard treatments, like pain and hormonal medication, haven’t worked.

But there’s no cure for endometriosis nor guarantee of how well a hysterectomy will treat symptoms.

In rare cases, people have developed endometriosis or noticeable symptoms after having a hysterectomy. It’s not clear why. Some experts think endometrial tissue may have spread outside the surgical site after the procedure.

It’s also possible that a person did have endometriosis but didn’t have obvious symptoms. Endometriosis may not have been diagnosed until later.

Endometriosis symptoms can return after a hysterectomy. One older study found that this may happen in up to 62% of people, but experts nowadays say recurrence is unlikely.

The most common ones are pelvic pain and pain during penetrative sex. This may be mild pain and be a significant improvement from before the hysterectomy.

According to research, there’s also a greater risk of complications from the surgery itself in people with endometriosis — potentially up to four times the risk.

There aren’t many studies that look into the long-term effects. Some have found reduced pain and improved quality of life over a short-term period, but endometriosis symptoms may recur over a longer period.

The type of hysterectomy you have may mean you’re more or less likely to have recurrent endometriosis symptoms. Some experts recommend removing the ovaries and the uterus to avoid returning endometrial lesions.

If endometriosis returns after a hysterectomy, your doctor will discuss which treatment options are available to you. Your doctor may try treatments that previously didn’t work to see if they now have an effect.

For example, if you still have your ovaries, hormone therapy may help slow the growth of lesions. Pain medication —whether over-the-counter or stronger prescriptions — can also help relieve symptoms.

In some cases, further surgery to remove endometrial lesions and scar tissue may be an option.

It’s important to remember that endometriosis currently has no cure. So, ongoing treatment may be needed to reduce and relieve symptoms.

Symptoms that do return after a hysterectomy may not be signs of endometriosis.

Many other things can cause pelvic pain — a common recurring symptom after a hysterectomy for endometriosis.

These include pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts (if your ovaries weren’t removed), and nerve damage due to the surgery.

Other conditions that aren’t related to the reproductive system can also lead to pelvic pain, and they include:

With no cure for endometriosis, it can be difficult to know whether a hysterectomy will help. But if all other treatments were unsuccessful, it may be an option to consider.

There’s no guarantee that endometriosis symptoms won’t return, although this likely only happens to a small minority. Removing the ovaries and all endometriosis lesions during a hysterectomy can lower the chance of symptoms recurring.

You can also try taking gonadotrophin-releasing hormone agonists to see if a hysterectomy would be worth it.

This medication temporarily turns off your ovaries, allowing you to experience any positive effects without the permanence of a hysterectomy.

If symptoms return, even after a hysterectomy, consult with your healthcare professional. Other treatments are available. And while they may not cure endometriosis, they can help make life more comfortable.

Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.