EH logo

Understanding Hysterectomies: A Guide for Women Considering This Surgery

Comparing Different Hysterectomy Types and Their Indications.
October 19, 2023

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus (womb). Sometimes, other organs like the cervix (opening of the uterus), ovaries, and fallopian tubes may also be removed. This surgery can be a life-changing decision, so it's important to understand the different types and what to expect.

Why Might a Hysterectomy Be Recommended?

Hysterectomies are often performed for various reasons, including:

  • Fibroids: Non-cancerous growths in the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding and pain.
  • Endometriosis: A condition where uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Uterine Prolapse: When the uterus slips down into the vagina.
  • Cancer: In some cases, hysterectomy is necessary to treat cancer of the uterus, ovaries, or cervix.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain or Abnormal Bleeding: When other treatments haven't provided relief.

Types of Hysterectomies

There are several types of hysterectomies, depending on which organs are removed:

  • Partial Hysterectomy: Only the upper part of the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix intact.
  • Total Hysterectomy: The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
  • Radical Hysterectomy: The uterus, cervix, surrounding tissues, and sometimes the upper part of the vagina are removed. This is usually done to treat cancer.

Your doctor may also recommend removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes along with the uterus. This is called a hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy.

Surgical Approaches

Hysterectomies can be performed in different ways:

  • Abdominal Hysterectomy: The uterus is removed through an incision in the lower abdomen.
  • Vaginal Hysterectomy: The uterus is removed through the vagina, leaving no visible scars.
  • Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: The uterus is removed through small incisions using a thin, lighted tube with a camera (laparoscope).
  • Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: Similar to laparoscopic surgery but uses a robotic system controlled by the surgeon.

The best approach for you will depend on your individual circumstances and the reason for your surgery.

Life After a Hysterectomy

After a hysterectomy, you will no longer have periods or be able to get pregnant. If your ovaries are removed, you may experience menopausal symptoms. It's important to discuss the potential physical and emotional impacts of the surgery with your doctor.

Hysterectomy is a major surgery with potential risks and benefits. It's crucial to have a thorough discussion with your doctor to understand your options, the risks and benefits of each type of hysterectomy, and what to expect during recovery.

If you're considering a hysterectomy, don't hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you have. They can help you make an informed decision that's right for you.