Background: Hysterectomy is a common procedure in Australia; approximately 1 in 5 Australian women undergoing a hysterectomy by the age of 50 for indications such as fibroids, disorders of menstruation (including excessive or irregular menstrual bleeding), and endometriosis. However, little is known about the characteristics of women who have had the procedure or the predictors of hysterectomy as a treatment for menstrual problems. This study of 687 middle-aged Australian women suffering from menstrual symptoms aimed to identify the common health and demographic characteristics that were likely to lead to hysterectomy for the treatment of these problems. Methods: A cross-sectional and a prospective cohort study were undertaken as a substudy of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (Women's Health Australia). Women from the mid-aged cohort of the Women's Health Australia study who identified having menstrual problems (n = 715) in the 1996 and 1998 surveys or who had undergone a hysterectomy (n = 218) during that time were recruited. A self-administered instrument was mailed to the 933 women in 2000. Data were analyzed using backward logistic regression to identify the characteristics that increased the likelihood of women undergoing hysterectomy for the treatment of menstrual problems.
Results: Factors that increased the likelihood of hysterectomy as a treatment for menstrual problems were varied. They included the number of menstrual symptoms experienced (odds ratio [OR], 1.63; p < .005) or conditions diagnosed (such as fibroids or excessive menstrual bleeding; OR, 2.5; p < .0005), a perception that information was available about menstrual problems (OR, 1.16; p < .001), being influenced in the decision making process to elect a treatment option (OR, 1.25; p < .025), and dissatisfaction with the other treatments tried before hysterectomy (OR, 0.63; p < .0005). Conclusions: Hysterectomy seem to be the treatment of choice for women experiencing a number of menstrual problems and less than satisfactory outcomes with other treatment options. Importantly, women appear to be making decisions based on the perception of sufficient information available about their menstrual problems, regardless of whether or not this was actually the case. Women are being influenced in their decision-making process to undergo a hysterectomy by health professionals, such as general practitioners and gynecologists.
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