-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Although there are more
hysterectomies in the United States than in any other
industrialized nation in the world, many American women do not have
a clear understanding of the procedure and how it will affect their
bodies, according to a new study.
For example, more than one in 10 mistakenly thought that the
uterus, which is removed during a hysterectomy, is not necessary to
pregnancy. This suggests that some women may think they can have
biological children after a hysterectomy, which is not
"More comprehensive counseling is imperative for women who are younger, lack college education, and are on public assistance," said the study's leader, Dr. Oz Harmanli of Springfield, Mass., in a news release from the American Urogynecologic Society (AUG). "As physicians, we must raise the bar in women's health care and take steps to educate patients about the details and implications of all treatment options."
In the study, researchers questioned 1,273 women about
hysterectomies and how this procedure affects women's sexual
function and reproductive system. The vast majority of those
interviewed were between 18 and 59 years old.
The study, presented Wednesday at the AUG's 32nd Annual
Scientific Meeting, found that 22 percent of the women did not know
the exact meaning of hysterectomy. Although it is defined as the
removal of the uterus, many women mistakenly thought the ovaries
and fallopian tubes were also routinely taken out during this
Total hysterectomies include the removal of the cervix, or the
opening part of the uterus, making it impossible for women to
develop new cases of cervical cancer. When asked about this
procedure, however, 44 percent of the women did not know if it
eliminated the disease.
Moreover, 41 percent of the women thought Pap smears, or tests
to predict cervical cancer risk, were necessary after total
hysterectomy. In fact, Pap smears are no longer needed unless the
hysterectomy is performed as a result of cancer.
Additional questions revealed many of the women did not have a
full understanding of female reproduction, the researchers noted.
More specifically, 13 percent did not know the uterus was necessary
to get pregnant.
Most of the women, 64 percent, also incorrectly believed the
uterus determined menopausal change. Women's ovaries perform this
role. Another 30 percent of women were unsure if removal of the
uterus would stop women's menstrual cycles.
Regarding sexual activity, 35 percent of the women mistakenly
expected changes in sexual function after even a supracervical
hysterectomy, which excludes the cervix.
And although research has shown otherwise, 11 percent of the
women still thought sex would be less enjoyable after a
The study's authors noted the women with college degrees knew
significantly more about female reproduction than the women with
Because the study findings were presented at a medical meeting,
they should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
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