In someone with endometriosis, tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus.
It can grow on the ovaries, the bowel, and throughout the pelvis, and this can cause pain. Hormonal changes can inflame this tissue, thickening it and making it more painful.
The treatment is controversial. A hysterectomy is a major surgery with permanent effects, and it’s not always a cure — the condition and related pain can return.
A hysterectomy may be done abdominally, laparoscopically, or vaginally.
There are three types:
- Partial hysterectomy. In this procedure, also known as a supracervical hysterectomy, the uterus is removed but not the cervix.
- Total hysterectomy. The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
- Hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy. The uterus and one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed.
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For some people with endometriosis, having a hysterectomy can have many benefits, including:
- the relief of symptoms
- no menstrual periods or associated pain
- no worries about pregnancy
If you’re interested in this option, speak with a healthcare professional. They can answer specific questions about your situation and address any concerns. This is especially important if you have other medical conditions.
Like any medical procedure, a hysterectomy can have drawbacks. These can vary depending on your preferences, situation, and overall health.
Some longer-term drawbacks can include:
- if the ovaries are removed, early menopause, which can cause:
- organ prolapse, when one or more organs slip from their position
- an inability to be pregnant
- the possibility that endometriosis will
Talk with your doctor about the possible drawbacks of the surgery. They can provide personalized advice, taking into account your concerns and any other ongoing health conditions.
A hysterectomy relieves the symptoms of endometriosis for many people, but the condition can recur after the surgery, and the symptoms can persist.
Having the surgery doesn’t always cure endometriosis. All the excess endometrial tissue needs to be removed, along with the uterus. If any tissue is left behind, it could continue to grow.
Endometriosis is often misdiagnosed or hard to diagnose. For Black people, it can be even harder to get an accurate diagnosis because of racial bias.
According to a 2011 study, there are significantly fewer studies on endometriosis in African American women, whose symptoms may be more likely to be misinterpreted. Moreover, doctors are less likely to believe reports of pain from Black women.
Overall, doctors are less likely to diagnose endometriosis in Black women, who also have more limited access to holistic treatments.
As a result, people of color may be less likely to receive adequate treatment, including surgery.
While there’s no cure for endometriosis, various treatments are available. Because of how painful it can be, it’s understandable that you want symptom relief as soon as possible.
Everyone responds differently to treatments, so your doctor might try more conservative options before they recommend things like surgery.
Other treatments can include:
- pain medication
- hormone therapy
- hormonal contraceptives
- gonadotropin-releasing hormone, or GnRH, agonists and antagonists
- danazol (Danocrine), a synthetic hormone
- conservative surgery
Ablation may also be an option. This laparoscopic procedure destroys excess endometrial tissue and scars to help relieve symptoms, including pain.
Another option is excising, or cutting away, endometrial tissue and scars. This can be done surgically or laparoscopically.
The decision to have a hysterectomy or not is personal, and only you can make it for yourself. What’s right for one person may not be right for another. Whatever your decision, having support and resources can help.
Some resources to explore include:
- Endometriosis Association
- Resilient Sisterhood Project: Endometriosis
- EndoFound: The Endometriosis Portal for People of Color
If endometriosis is causing consistent pain and interfering with your everyday life, talk with a healthcare professional. They can describe all your treatment options and go over what has worked so far.
If you’re interested in a hysterectomy, they can explain the possible benefits and drawbacks and whether surgery is a suitable option for you.
A hysterectomy is one possible treatment for endometriosis. It is often, but not always, a cure. As with any medical procedure, there are benefits and drawbacks, and a hysterectomy is not right for everyone.
It is a major surgery, and the decision to have it or not is personal. Knowing what the procedure involves and the possible effects can help you make the best decision for you.