Female Times Health: Second Opinions Really Matter the Agony of Acne; Dr Miriam Stoppard Tells Why She Would Never Agree to Have a Hysterectomy without Getting a Second Medical Opinion. the Alternative Path

Article excerpt

Too many women are opting for hysterectomies to cure heavy periods because they are not aware that other effective treatments are available according to the women's health charity WellBeing.

Television health presenter Dr Miriam Stoppard told a health symposium run by WellBeing in London last week that there has been concern for some time both within the medical profession and outside about rising rates of the operation which appear to be continuing despite less invasive surgical treatments and effective drug therapies being available.

She said: "I personally would never have a hysterectomy without obtaining a second opinion, regardless of persuasive arguments, particularly as most medical conditions will respond to treatment without surgery, if a doctor is determined and positive.''

Hysterectomy is one of the most commonly performed operations with over 2,000 performed on Ulster women each year. Latest figures show that approximately 90,000 such operations are performed in the UK with two thirds of these being carried out as a means of treating menorrhagia (heavy periods) in younger women, to improve quality of life, rather than as a life-saving procedure Yet according to leading experts, not only do women not realise that there are other treatment options, they are unaware of the risks associated with undergoing a hysterectomy.

Stephen Smith, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Rosie Maternity Hospital, in Cambridge, says there is a significant risk of problems, with one in 50 women experiencing complications.

In Northern Ireland the highest numbers of the operation are performed on women between the ages of 40 and 50 years. One such operation was performed on a local teenager this year.

Research conducted by WellBeing shows that almost three quarters of women have not heard of the newer surgical options while four out of five hadn't been told about effective drug therapies.

Two thirds of women said they would consider the drastic step of having their womb removed as a way of ending their monthly misery.

Miss Margaret Rees, honorary senior clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford told the symposium that women who leave school without qualifications are 15 times more likely to have a hysterectomy than women with a university degree.

Dr Stoppard said: "Women must be fully informed about the risks and benefits of various treatment options so that they can be involved to a greater extent in the decision making process - about what is, after all, their own body. …