Tens of thousands of hysterectomies are carried out every year in the UK – medical procedures where women undergo surgery to remove the uterus or womb. Doctors take this course of action to treat one of a number of conditions affecting the female reproductive system – including heavy periods, long-term pelvic pain, non-cancerous tumours, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer and cancer of the fallopian tubes – once less invasive alternatives have been ruled out.
Once a woman has undergone a hysterectomy, she is no longer able to get pregnant and carry a child. This may be less of an issue for older patients – those who have already reached the menopause, or are happy with the size of their family – but can be very traumatic for women who want to have another child. An inability to conceive can be a cause of great sadness for couples. Although the majority of women undergoing hysterectomies are in their 40s and 50s, so are far less likely to conceive, many younger women each year also have hysterectomies.
In such instances, many patients stand to benefit greatly from an alternative treatment to a hysterectomy – the sacrohysteropexy. This little-known laparoscopic procedure involves repositioning the uterus, meaning a hysterectomy is no longer needed to treat prolapse problems. As a consequence, patients are still able to conceive and give birth in the future.
One of the main reasons relatively few women in the UK undergo the sacrohysteropexy procedure is a general lack of awareness. Although practitioners such as consultant gynaecologist Mr Jonathan Broome now offer the procedure as an alternative to hysterectomy, relatively few patients recognise there is another option to removal of the womb.
Mr Broome has performed over 1,000 sacrohysteropexy procedures to date, with a 100% success rate, enabling many women to retain their uterus while overcoming their condition. The procedure can be a real life-changer for many would-be mothers and their partners.
Many women each year suffer from prolapse of the uterus after childbirth or during menopause, as a consequence of the pelvic floor muscles weakening. The availability of alternative surgery to a hysterectomy gives many women hope that they can recover from prolapse and still go on to have more children in the future.
As awareness of this form of treatment grows, the number of sacrohysteropexy procedures performed each year is almost certain to increase.