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July 29, 2016  
FIBROIDS1 NEWS: Feature Story

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  • Hysterectomy Can Cause Urinary Incontinence

    Hysterectomy Can Cause Urinary Incontinence


    December 04, 2003

    By Diana Barnes Brown for Fibroids1

    Hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus, is the second most common abdominal surgery in the United States and is performed to treat or prevent a large number of medical problems or illnesses, from uterine fibroids (benign uterine tumors) to abnormal uterine bleeding (menorrhagia) to cancer.
    Take Action
    Treating Urinary Incontinence:
  • Do Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles that help hold in urine. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of three, then relax for a count of three. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Modify your daily eating habits. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine or avoid acidic foods if they irritate your bladder. Reduce liquid consumption before bedtime. Losing weight may also help to control incontinence.
  • If you have an overactive bladder ask your doctor to prescribe a medication that blocks the nerve signals that cause frequent urination and urgency.
  • Implanted devices may be helpful in treating incontinence. A bulking agent, made of collagen, carbon-coated beads, or other particles suspended in solution, can be injected into the area surrounding the opening of the bladder to help close the bladder and prevent leakage.
  • If the bladder has been moved from its normal position, surgery may be required to support the bladder in its normal place. Ask your doctor about two such surgeries, known as retropubic suspension and the sling procedure.


  • While the procedure can lead to a major improvement in patients’ health and alleviate troublesome or painful symptoms, there are also a number of risks and potential drawbacks associated with the procedure, and it is important for women to discuss both the positive and negative outcomes of hysterectomy with their doctors before undergoing surgery.

    As with all open surgery, risks of hysterectomy include hemorrhage, reactions to anesthesia, infection at the surgery site, and damage to the muscle, nerves, or tissue in the area. But hysterectomy has a whole range of possible symptoms and after effects all its own. Since total hysterectomy includes the removal of the cervix, the muscles and nerves in or near the vagina may also be damaged or irritated. If the damage does not repair completely during the recovery period, patients may suffer from lasting effects, and even if there is no "damage" per se, the change in shape and surgical reshaping of the pelvic area can result in noticeable changes.

    One after effect that has been increasingly noted by physicians and patients is urinary incontinence. Medical care givers have known for years that hysterectomy can disrupt pelvic nerve systems or supportive muscle in the area, but recently Doctor Jeannette S. Brown and a team of other doctors at the university of California found that in the years following hysterectomy, womens' chance of suffering from some form of incontinence increases by as much as sixty percent by the time they reach sixty years of age.

    While many women suffer from some form of incontinence or urinary track problems in later life, the relationship between hysterectomy and incontinence should be discussed with patients before they consent to undergo any procedure. Although hysterectomy may turn out to be the only safe course of action for a particular medical problem, there are also cases where alternatives may be equally effective, and patients and doctors should go over all potential treatments and procedures before deciding on the best option.

    Last updated: 04-Dec-03

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