Rita Simons and Her Hysterectomy: When Is this Operation Necessary?

The decision to have a radical hysterectomy isn't an easy one. Rita Simons opted for this surgery after years of medical treatment without favorable results.
Rita Simons and Her Hysterectomy: When Is this Operation Necessary?
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 16 February, 2023

Rita Simons, 45, opted for a radical hysterectomy to put an end to her menstrual cycle problems. The actress of one of the longest-running soap operas on British television, EastEnders, was frank and open about her health problems. Click here to find out more about her.

According to her statements, the repetition of painful and abundant menstruation didn’t allow her to lead a normal life. Not even in the professional sphere. She often had to cancel obligations, appointments, and interviews because she didn’t feel well.

Although she tried more conservative treatments, based on hormone medication, they failed. Therefore, in dialogue with her family doctor, they decided that removing the uterus and ovaries was the only way forward.

Rita Simons’ radical hysterectomy has precise indications and is reserved for some patients. We analyze when such surgery makes sense and why.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a major operation in which the uterus is removed from the woman’s body. It’s an irreversible procedure that functions as a definitive treatment for a variety of conditions.

The surgeon may remove only the womb of the uterus and leave the cervix, or remove the cervix as well. Similarly, one can choose to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries in the same procedure.

Rita Simons chose a radical hysterectomy with a salpingo-oophorectomy, but all the available types of this surgery, according to the Cleveland Clinic, are as follows:

  • Supracervical: The uterus is removed, leaving the cervix inside the woman.
  • Total: The entire uterus is removed with the cervix.
  • With salpingo-oophorectomy: The fallopian tubes and ovaries are added to the removal of the uterus. Sometimes it’s unilateral – if the anatomical structures are left on one side only – or bilateral if everything is removed.
  • Radical: The most total form of this surgery is one in which the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, part of the vagina, and the lymph nodes in the area are removed. Although its main indication is locally advanced gynecological cancer, it can also be performed in clinical cases linked to the menstrual cycle, provided that the patient no longer wishes to gestate in the future.
A woman with mentrual pain.
The different types of surgery are based on the anatomical structure of the female reproductive system. And they’re available for various diseases.

Hysterectomy in the context of heavy menstrual cycles

Some women have painful menstrual cycles with heavy bleeding. This is often known as heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB). There are different situations that explain them and the form of presentation is also variable. Sometimes a specific cause is identified, such as ovarian cysts or endometriosis, but there are also patients without a specific diagnosis.

An estimated 27.2% of European women have symptoms compatible with HMB. Among them, more than half suffer from anemia associated with profuse iron loss due to bleeding during their cycles. Yet, despite its high prevalence, it remains an under-diagnosed clinical condition.

It tends to be underestimated in consultations, and treatments that don’t achieve good results are prescribed. This prolongs the suffering of women, who see their daily quality of life affected.

Available treatments

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has developed a classification of the causes of HMB to better organize treatment protocols. Thus, according to the underlying diagnosis, an approach is proposed for each patient. Each cause is treated as follows:

  • Uterine polyps: The presence of polyps in the uterus warrants removal with minimally invasive techniques. A hysterectomy is not usually required.
  • Adenomyosis and leiomyomas: According to the size of these benign tumors and the patient’s symptoms, hysterectomy, such as in the case of Rita Simons, may be chosen. Taking medication isn’t always enough to reduce the volume of the extra tissue that has grown in the organ.
  • Malignant tumors: This is the main indication for hysterectomy when cancer has advanced locally, from the cervix, and has taken over other tissues, which may include the lymph nodes in the region.
  • Coagulopathy: Women with coagulation disorders are medicated by hematologists who try to solve the blood problem that leads to heavy bleeding.
  • Ovulatory dysfunction: A hormonal disturbance is capable of changing the amount and rhythm of menstrual bleeding. If the substance found in abnormal proportions is detected, the doctor prescribes therapy with synthetic hormones.
  • Problems with the endometrium: For endometriosis and other related disorders, the recommendation is to individualize the case. Some women respond well to a medication plan, without surgical intervention, while others don’t find a solution until the uterus is removed.
Cases of undiagnosed HMB are the most complicated.

In the absence of altered hormonal results or changes in the anatomy of the uterus or ovaries, the situation is complex. Women can discuss with their physician the option of radical hysterectomy if they meet certain criteria, such as being over 40, having tried conservative approaches and not desiring pregnancy.

So who should evaluate the option of a hysterectomy?

According to experts in the field, a hysterectomy is proposed for women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, without diagnosed malignant pathology, and who have already tried conservative treatments with little success. As a priority, they must also meet the requirement of not desiring a future pregnancy.

Rita Simons and her radical hysterectomy, as far as we know, was framed in this context. At 45 years old and with a long history of problems due to HMB, she was a candidate for surgery.

The operation is quite effective in its results. One year after the operation, most women register an improvement in the perception of their quality of life.

Period pains.
Painful menstrual cycles require a diagnosis, as they’re the cause of alterations in the routine.

When to consult a doctor?

If you experience heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, then you should consult a doctor. The first thing to do is to look for the cause of the abnormal cycles.

If one is identified, the specialist will suggest treatment alternatives. Hysterectomy isn’t the first option, as medications and other less invasive therapies are preferred initially.

However, if there are no good results and you meet certain criteria, radical surgery will be a possibility. In that context, discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor to make an informed decision.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Chen, Y. J., Li, Y. T., Huang, B. S., Yen, M. S., Sheu, B. C., Chow, S. N., … & Taiwan Association of Gynecology Systematic Review Group. (2015). Medical treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. Taiwanese Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology54(5), 483-488.
  • Davies, J., & Kadir, R. A. (2017). Heavy menstrual bleeding: an update on management. Thrombosis research151, S70-S77.
  • Fraser, I. S., Mansour, D., Breymann, C., Hoffman, C., Mezzacasa, A., & Petraglia, F. (2015). Prevalence of heavy menstrual bleeding and experiences of affected women in a European patient survey. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics128(3), 196-200.
  • Mora, E., Gallego, P. A., & Fuentes, J. S. (2018). Histerectomía radical por cáncer de cuello uterino. Revista Repertorio de Medicina y Cirugía27(1), 2-6.
  • Rolla, E. (2019). Endometriosis: advances and controversies in classification, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. F1000Research8.
  • Selvanathan, S., Acharya, N., & Singhal, S. (2019). Quality of life after hysterectomy and uterus-sparing hysteroscopic management of abnormal uterine bleeding or heavy menstrual bleeding. Journal of Mid-life Health10(2), 63.
  • van der Meij, E., & Emanuel, M. H. (2016). Hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding. Women’s Health12(1), 63-69.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.