Halloween will make your child scream (36132)

More wounded wombs (hysterectomies) occur every year than all gun and stab wounds put together.

The womb has been defined as an organ in mammals that holds, protects and usually nourishes the young until birth. Well, I beg to differ with this definition totally. The womb is a dynamic organ that communicates with the other major organs and specialized tissues in the body. With this in mind, it is downright disturbing that 350,000 of these precious organs are removed from women each year in the United States alone.

The first hysterectomy was performed in Rome by the Greek physician Archigenes in the year 100 A.D., for what reason I am not sure. The United States holds the world record for wounding the womb. At least 40 percent of all hysterectomies are performed due to the growth of large, muscular tumors known as fibroids. The enlargement of these nonmalignant tumors may cause abdominal discomfort and excessive menstrual bleeding. During menopause, fibroids may decrease in size due to the decrease in estrogen produced by the ovaries.

The other 60 percent of hysterectomies are due to heavy menstrual bleeding, unexplained pelvic pain and discomfort, uterine prolapse (dropping down of the uterus into the vaginal area) and endometriosis (displaced cells that line the uterus).

The womb is a bag of chemical reactions. It is constantly communicating with the ovaries and other organs, including the brain. The cells that line the uterus produce proteins, fats and carbohydrates in preparation for a fertilized egg. It has recently been demonstrated that the uterus also produces a hormone that ensures the health of the blood vessels that are distributed in the uterus. The hormones as a group are known as prostaglandins. They not only dilate arteries but control the contraction of the uterus, even during intercourse. These hormones affect smooth muscles located in organs throughout the body.

The uterus also produces a morphine-like compound that controls pain during contractions. This magnificent organ is also capable of producing a marijuana-like compound necessary to make the lining of the uterus for the fertilized egg to be attached.

African-American women have been found to have a high incidence of fibroids for unknown reasons. It may be genetic, environmental or nutritional. At the present time, there is no known medical reason. It is definitely known, however, that fibroids decrease in size during the post-menopause period, when estrogen levels have decreased.

Often, during a routine vaginal exam, a gynecologist may palpate small or even large fibroids. Even the suggestion of this condition sets off an alarm in the minds of women. Most of the time, women consider these tumors to be cancerous and want them removed immediately, even against the advice of the physician. Rest assured that if your physician advises against surgery, you are in good hands. If surgery is necessary, however, a hysterectomy is not the only answer. The small fibroids can be removed from the uterus surgically, leaving the uterus intact. Laser surgery has been found to cut down the bleeding during surgery as well as lessen recovery time for the patient.

Remember to have periodic examinations and Pap smears in order to detect early, curable gynecological conditions, and choose a caring physician.

For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other health care professionals, visit www.DrDeas.com.