This is the question my gynaecologist asked me after reading the scan report and examining me. I wasn’t really a question I was prepared for – my GP had said that the hospital would avoid a hysterectomy if they could because it’s such a major procedure, so I was a shocked that it was the first thing he said. I asked if he couldn’t just remove the fibroid, and he smiled (gently, to be fair, he wasn’t laughing at me) and said no because the fibroid was part of my womb.
So that was that, I went to the appointment expecting to be sent for a more detailed scan (CT or MRI, which my GP had mentioned), and left having signed away my womb, my tubes, my ovaries and my cervix. I remember I was a bit numb as I drove away from the hospital.
Having consulted Dr Google, I had known hysterectomy was an option, but wasn’t really expecting it. There is a procedure called a myomectomy (warning: site includes a surgical photograph), which is removal of just the fibroid, leaving the reproductive organs intact, and there are drugs that can be taken to reduce the size of fibroids. Neither of these were mentioned to me: I know my large fibroid was actually growing inside the front wall of my womb so myomectomy wasn’t an option and I’m assuming it wasn’t large enough to need reducing before surgery. I don’t know if I would have been offered this option if I’d been younger and not had my children. It’s worth bearing in mind if you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids and are young. It’s also worth asking if hysterectomy is really the only option, or even the best option, for your particular condition. I can only write about my experience with fibroids, of course.
One more thing, I had read that fibroids tend to shrink after menopause and mentioned this to my consultant. He told that that they only tend to shrink by about 30%.Something to be aware of, especially if you are younger than me (48).
There does seem to be a huge variety of information out there, and it’s really important to ask questions at your initial consultation – I went with a list and still probably didn’t ask everything I should have asked.
So, to answer my consultant’s question, I felt a bit shocked and a bit numb. By then, of course, I was in constant discomfort and couldn’t sit properly for any length of time, which was affecting my work as a teacher. Planning and marking had become physically painful and I just wanted it sorting.Nine weeks on, I’m not yet at the stage where I’m more comfortable physically, but I will be and that’s the important thing.
Having signed away my lady bits, I then had to prepare myself for what is a major, life-changing surgery – both physically and emotionally. More in my next blog.