Picture this scenario. You are having issues with heavy bleeding at menstruation. You go to your gynecologist and are told you need a hysterectomy. This will require a major surgery, a prolonged recovery time and inability to get back to work and your daily life for quite a while. Is this the only solution? The answer is probably no. We now have many more alternatives to hysterectomy than ever before.

In the category of medical alternatives to hysterectomy there is the possibility of oral contraceptives and hormonal Depo-Provera infections. These medications are traditionally used for contraception but are safe for women to use until menopause if no medical health issues exist. They can decrease monthly bleeding substantially and even be manipulated so that there are fewer menstrual cycles, Oral contraceptives can also decrease acne and perimenopausal side effects as well.

Another new alternative to hysterectomy is the Mirena IUD. This device recently received FDA approval for use in managing heavy menses. It can easily be placed in an office visit without anesthesia. After the first few months most patients will have either no menes or very light menses. The device can be left in for 5 years and is very safe in all age groups.

If you prefer not to use a medication or are reluctant to use and IUD another alternative would be an endometrial ablation. This is a procedure that in some cases can be done in an office setting or as an outpatient at the hospital. The lining of the uterine cavity is treated so there is either no menses or very light meses each month.

The nice feature with this procedure is that recovery time is very quick. Most people are back to work within a 24-hour time period and the results last for years.

So the next time your doctor says you need a hysterectomy, be sure to discuss these options. While the need for hysterectomy still exists in some cases there are more alternatives than ever before.

- Written by Dr. Laura Tsakiris