Monday, May 27, 2024

Preserve the curious organ!

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A lot of awareness is gravitating — guess about what? On unnecessary hysterectomies in the city! As per our sources in the medical fraternity, we are getting to know that a high number of uterus removal cases, even among much younger women, are being done in top-class hospitals. What’s the worrisome part of it? Well, this may inflict a physical, social, and mental health burden on these women, and we have witnessed it up close and personal in our surroundings! Many senior delegates and experts opined that multi-level awareness through the use of local languages involving all stakeholders needs to be initiated in an organised manner to counter this issue now.

“We recently held a summit for a nationwide campaign in collaboration with the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India and the IHW Council. Only focus on state policy perspectives, strengthening health systems to address women’s health issues, and raising awareness about the impact of hysterectomies! After the state-level discussions that have been led on this topic, it became imperative to engage with stakeholders at the national level on this critical issue impacting women’s health.

Experts came together to deliberate on the major findings from state-level summits and paved the way forward to tackle the issue of the high number of unjustifiable hysterectomies in the country. Families are major decision-makers in our society when it comes to women’s health. Hence, families need to be made aware of such issues so that the women have their support in seeking the best medical advice,” advised Dr. Amita Bali Vohra.

“I would have blood on my clothes, and occasionally it would even seep down to my feet. I had undergone a hysterectomy in my late 30s, hoping it would solve my problems. I also thought it would boost my productivity at work. However, post-surgery, I have more problems to deal with,” is the account of a patient named Archana.

The swinging campaign seeks to highlight modern and alternative methods of managing gynaecological disease, as well as raise awareness about the impact of hysterectomy so that women can make empowered and informed decisions! Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, from Bloom IVF, said, “The medical fraternity needs to apply objective yardsticks and a standardised algorithm for managing the indications and health issues that precede hysterectomy and follow uniform protocols. In our country, hysterectomies are the second most common gynaecological surgeries, often conducted for conditions like heavy menstrual bleeding, which could be managed non-surgically too! Moreover, some of these are being performed at younger ages and during peak reproductive years, which is so unhealthy.”

According to research, thousands of women across India, especially from the country’s lowest social strata, are being forced to surgically remove their uterus after picking up infections at work.

While talking about government initiatives on women’s health at the same time, Dr. K. Madan Gopal, senior consultant health involved in NITI Aayog, observed that work is underway to bring gynaecological care into focus as compared to obstetric care, which has been the government’s focus since the last couple of decades. Screenings and diagnostic care for women’s health also need to be initiated on a larger scale!

These can also increase the risk of osteoporosis, weakening of the bones, and cardiovascular diseases. Oophorectomy, the removal of the ovaries, is frequently performed with a hysterectomy. Ovaries are the primary source of oestrogen, and removing them can reduce hormone levels and result in surgical menopause. So, women, beware!

Bayer enlightened us that post-hysterectomy, many women report medical issues such as backache, vaginal discharge, weakness, problems in sexual health, and incontinence. So, a hysterectomy at a younger age is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and osteoporosis, as well as a negative impact on the individual’s mental health! Why do it?

It’s noted that Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Bihar account for most hysterectomies in private facilities! This is a significant rise from 2016 when NFHS-4 recorded 67.3 per cent of women undergoing hysterectomies in private hospitals. Alarming. Bayer Healthcare also mentions that the uterus is an important organ of the female body, but due to a lack of knowledge, there is a misconception that after childbearing, the uterus does not play a significant role in women’s health. This is the reason that many women opt for hysterectomies for trivial health issues.

If this trend continues, it could have long-term consequences for young women’s health, potentially affecting children and larger communities. It’s time governments conducted regular medical audits and educated people on the consequences of quick fixes!

According to Kamal Narayan, CEO of the IHW Council, women’s rights over their bodies and health must not be ignored for economic gain at the expense of their health. With an increase in the use of social media, especially in rural areas, initiatives like this will go a long way in giving a fillip to health awareness and prioritising women’s reproductive health while removing the stigma associated with it and ensuring her physical and emotional well-being.

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