There are many reasons why you might end up having a hysterectomy. The procedure, designed to remove the uterus entirely, may be a requirement if you have advanced uterine cancer, uterine fibroids that cause you pain, or a uterine prolapse. It may also be recommended in cases of endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain and heavy periods, or adenomyosis. In supracervical or subtotal hysterectomies, only the top portion of the uterus is removed, while a total hysterectomy generally removes the full uterus and cervix.
The uterus, of course, plays an important role in pregnancy; it’s where the fetus develops during gestation. Without a uterus, you may wonder whether it’s possible to ever have a child. The short answer is yes, but there are many possibilities, depending on your goals and your current situation after having a hysterectomy.
The Chances of Fertility
It is possible to become pregnant after having a hysterectomy, but only under certain conditions. Assuming at least one ovary and fallopian tube remain intact after the procedure and assuming the woman is still fertile, it’s possible for one of her eggs to become fertilized. In this case, known as an ectopic pregnancy, the egg attaches itself to the interior of the fallopian tube, rather than to the walls of the uterus.
However, this is not regarded as a safe form of pregnancy. Growing in a fallopian tube will not allow the fetus to develop normally and healthily, resulting in severe health complications. In addition, growing in a fallopian tube will typically cause the tube to rupture, resulting in heavy blood loss and endangering the life of the mother. Whenever an ectopic pregnancy is detected, doctors usually recommend removing the fallopian tube which unfortunately terminates the ectopic pregnancy in order to save the life of the mother. Fortunately, the chances of this happening after having a hysterectomy are extremely low in the first place.
There are other options for becoming a mom after having a hysterectomy, including surrogacy. The surrogacy process is easier to follow than most people think, though the legal requirements of surrogacy do vary from state to state. In general, there are two types of surrogate motherhood to consider.
In traditional surrogacy, you’ll use sperm cells from the intended biological father to fertilize the egg cells of the surrogate mother, who will then carry the child and deliver it. In this scenario, the surrogate mother would be the birth mother and biological mother to the child. It’s an option for someone who has also had her ovaries removed in the hysterectomy, in a variant of the procedure known as a radical hysterectomy, since she can’t produce egg cells of her own.
It’s also possible to pursue gestational surrogacy if at least one of your ovaries is still intact and functional. In this approach, an egg cell from the mother and a sperm cell from the father are combined into an embryo, and placed inside the uterus of the surrogate mother in a process known as in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this approach, the mother and father are still the biological parents of the child, though the surrogate mother will be the birth mother, carrying the baby to term and delivering it.
If you’re not sure whether you want to proceed with surrogacy, you can choose to have a collection of egg cells harvested from your own ovaries and frozen for future use. That way, if you ever decide to pursue IVF with a surrogate mother, you can use them.
For some people, this is a morally objectionable procedure though, so be sure to study your church’s teaching on the topic of IVF before perusing this option.
Don’t forget, it’s also possible to adopt a child, instead of getting pregnant through conventional means or resorting to using a surrogate mother. Adoption is arguably the best option and certainly the most moral one!
In adoption, you won’t bear any biological relation to the child, which might bother some people, but it’s the most favorable option as there are many babies and children out there in need of a loving home. If you are able to do so, adoption is the best thing you can do!
Making the Right Decision for You
There are definitely options out there for those ready to pursue parenthood after having a hysterectomy. Having a hysterectomy doesn’t mean the possibility of being a mom is no longer available; it just requires a different approach.