A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus). You'll no longer be able to get pregnant after the operation.
The uterus, also known as the womb, is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. The uterine lining is the source of menstrual blood.
You may need a hysterectomy for many reasons. The surgery can be used to treat a number of chronic pain conditions as well as certain types of cancer and infections.
The extent of a hysterectomy varies depending on the reason for the surgery. In most cases, the entire uterus is removed. The doctor may also remove the ovaries and the fallopian tubes during the procedure. The ovaries are the organs that produce estrogen and other hormones. The fallopian tubes are the structures that transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus.
Once you’ve had a hysterectomy, you’ll stop having menstrual periods. You’ll also be unable to get pregnant.
Once this surgical procedure has been performed and if you have not already gone through the menopause, then you'll no longer have periods, regardless of your age.
Many women have a hysterectomy. It's more common for women aged 40 to 50.
Why Is a Hysterectomy Performed?
Your doctor may suggest a hysterectomy if you have any of the following:
Types of Hysterectomy
There are several different types of hysterectomy -
Partial Hysterectomy - During a partial hysterectomy, your doctor removes only a portion of your uterus. They may leave your cervix intact.
Total Hysterectomy - During a total hysterectomy, your doctor removes the entire uterus, including the cervix. You’ll no longer need to get an annual Pap test if your cervix is removed. However, you should continue to have regular pelvic examinations.
Hysterectomy and Salpingo-Oophorectomy - During a hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy, your doctor removes the uterus along with one or both of your ovaries and fallopian tubes. You may need hormone replacement therapy if both of your ovaries are removed.
Abdominal Hysterectomy - During an abdominal hysterectomy, your doctor removes your uterus through a large cut in your abdomen. The incision may be vertical or horizontal. Both types of incisions tend to heal well and leave little scaring.
Vaginal Hysterectomy - During a vaginal hysterectomy, your uterus is removed through a small incision made inside the vagina. There are no external cuts, so there won’t be any visible scars.
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy - During a laparoscopic hysterectomy, your doctor uses a tiny instrument called a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long, thin tube with a high-intensity light and a high-resolution camera at the front. The instrument is inserted through incisions in the abdomen. Three or four small incisions are made instead of one large incision. Once the surgeon can see your uterus, they’ll cut the uterus into small pieces and remove one piece at a time.
How Is a Hysterectomy Performed
A hysterectomy can be performed in several ways. All methods require a general or local anaesthetic. A general anaesthetic will put you to sleep throughout the procedure so that you don’t feel any pain. A local anaesthetic will numb your body below the waistline, but you’ll remain awake during the surgery. This type of anaesthetic will sometimes be combined with a sedative, which will help you feel sleepy and relaxed during the procedure.
Complications of a hysterectomy
There's a small risk of complications, including:
Recovering from a hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is a major operation. You can be in hospital for up to 5 days after surgery, and it takes about 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover.
Recovery times can also vary depending on the type of hysterectomy.
Rest as much as possible during this time and do not lift anything heavy, such as bags of shopping. You need time for your abdominal muscles and tissues to heal.
Your doctor will give you medication for the pain and monitor your vital signs, such as your breathing and heart rate. You’ll also be encouraged to walk around the hospital as soon as possible. Walking helps prevent blood clots from forming in the legs.
If you’ve had a vaginal hysterectomy, your vagina will be packed with gauze to control the bleeding. The doctors will remove the gauze within a few days after the surgery. However, you may experience bloody or brownish drainage from your vagina for about 10 days. Wearing a menstrual pad can help protect your clothing from getting stained.
When you return home from the hospital, it’s important to continue walking. You can walk around inside your house or around your neighbourhood. However, you should avoid performing certain activities during recovery. These include:
If you’ve had a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy, you’ll probably be able to return to most of your regular activities within three to four weeks. Recovery time will be a little longer if you’ve had an abdominal hysterectomy. You should be completely healed in about four to six weeks.
If your ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy, you'll go through the menopause immediately after the operation, regardless of your age. This is known as a surgical menopause.
If 1 or both of your ovaries are left intact, there's a chance you'll experience the menopause within 5 years of having your operation.
If you experience a surgical menopause after having a hysterectomy, you should be offered hormone replacement therapy (HRT).