Dangers of Hysterectomy

A recent review article published in the highly respected medical journal The Lancet (August 2000; vol. 1356: no. 9229) reveals some of the dangers of hysterectomies. The authors found that 1 in 10 women have serious complications, including death in 6 out of 10,000 women. The risk of developing incontinence (due to nerves damaged during surgery) increases by 60%, although the problem may only manifest itself years after the fact and is rarely recognized as a consequence of the hysterectomy.

In the United States 600,000 hysterectomies are carried out each year. It is estimated that 40% of American women will have a hysterectomy by age 60. This rate far exceeds that of other industrialized nations, raising questions about standards of care. Women are rarely informed of the dangers or of the alternatives, including natural hormones, that can sometimes obviate the need for surgery.