The proportion was highest in Punjab and Andhra Pradesh where at least one in five women above 45 had the surgery
Around 11 per cent of Indian women above the age of 45 years have undergone hysterectomy, found the first Longitudinal Ageing Study in India. The Union Ministry of Family and Health Welfare (MoFHW) study surveyed over 72,000 elderly Indians between 2017 and 2018.
Hysterectomy refers to the surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the cervix and supporting tissues to treat health complications.
A much lower proportion (3.2 per cent) of women between 15 to 49 years of age had undergone the operation, according to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16. NFHS-4 was the first to gather data on hysterectomy in the country. Its report showed that 67 per cent of Indian women preferred private hospitals and only a third preferred public ones.
In Andhra Pradesh (23.1 per cent) and Punjab (21.2 per cent) at least one in every five elderly women had undergone the surgery.
Some studies show that in Andhra, the surgery is performed unnecessarily especially on young pre-menopausal women belonging to poor socio-economic backgrounds. In Medak district of Andhra, there are reports of women given no choice of treatment other than hysterectomy even for common gynaecological problems like abdominal pain and white discharge by private healthcare institutions who benefit from this procedure.
The lowest proportion of women got hysterectomy in the north-eastern states of India. In Assam, 3.3 per cent, in Arunachal Pradesh 3.1 per cent, in Nagaland 1.7 per cent and in Meghalaya just 0.92 per cent underwent the operation.
The strong local-level public health infrastructure and the preference for public hospitals is the main reason behind the low figure, the report pointed out.
Variations were also observed based on the economic status and level of education of women. The proportion of elderly women from the richest quintile (18 per cent) of the population who have gone for the surgery is over twice that of the poorest quintile (eight per cent).
A higher proportion of women (15 per cent) went for the operation in urban India, where the level of education is higher among women, compared to rural India (10 per cent), the report said. The major reason for the surgery among urban women was uterine fibroids while that among rural women was menstrual disorder.
In Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand and the Union territory of Daman and Diu, however, a higher percentage of women in rural areas chose the surgery.
While the LASI report showed a higher proportion of hysterectomy cases in urban areas, NFHS-4 had pointed at a higher proportion in rural areas.
In general, the surgery is performed for the following reasons:
Views expressed are the authors' own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.