Role of Hysterectomy in the Treatment of Chronic Pelvic Pain

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Chronic pelvic pain affects nearly 15% of women annually in the United States. It is associated with significant comorbidity, and annual costs to the health care system are estimated at approximately 2 billion dollars per year. The multifactorial nature of chronic pelvic pain makes it difficult to evaluate and treat. Therapies vary and may include surgical interventions such as hysterectomy. Although hysterectomy is an accepted treatment for chronic pelvic pain, it has important limitations that need to be discussed with the patient before surgery. Women can expect improvement in pain levels and function from their preoperative baseline. However, studies show that in the absence of any obvious pathology, 21–40% of women having a hysterectomy for chronic pelvic pain may continue to experience pain after the surgery and 5% may have new onset of pain. Women may experience improvements in mental health, physical function, social function, and dyspareunia; however, sexual frequency is not likely to change. Comorbidities such as preoperative depression may lower the chances of pain resolution after hysterectomy. Approximately 14% of women report having results worse than expected and almost 26% may have a slower recovery than expected. To maximize the chances of pain resolution, all women with chronic pelvic pain should undergo a full evaluation of the urologic, gastroenterologic, neurologic, and musculoskeletal organ systems before surgery to exclude nonreproductive causes of pain.

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