A hysterectomy is a surgery performed to remove the uterus. During this time, depending on the patient’s unique circumstances, the gynecologist may also remove the fallopian tubes and one or both ovaries.
There are a variety of reasons why a gynecologist may recommend a hysterectomy. For example, if a woman has endometriosis, non-cancerous fibroid tumors, a blockage, cancer or chronic pelvic conditions, or abnormal uterine bleeding, their gynecologist may recommend a hysterectomy.
Things to Consider
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and possible complications that your gynecologist will discuss with you. Prior to your appointment, your gynecologist will explain the procedure to you, see if you have questions and perform a complete physical on you. You may have to take other tests as well, such as a blood test.
There are more details your gynecologist will share with you that will help you prepare for the actual surgery, such as fasting for eight hours before it occurs.
Types of Hysterectomies
There are four different types of hysterectomies, and all require general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. Almost all hysterectomies require an overnight hospital stay. The type of procedure you have can vary, based on your unique circumstances and your gynecologist’s practices.
- Partial or Subtotal (Supracervical): The uterus is removed, but the cervix is left whole.
- Total: The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed. The fallopian tubes or ovaries are not removed. This is the most common type of hysterectomy.
- Salpingo-Oophorectomy: One or both ovaries are removed and the fallopian tubes, along with the uterus.
- Radical: The uterus, cervix and the top part of the vagina are removed. Sometimes, the pelvic lymph nodes are also removed.
About the Procedure
There are different ways hysterectomies can be performed, depending on the patient’s unique circumstances. Here is an overview of these procedures:
- Abdominal: Your gynecologist makes an incision in your abdomen to remove the uterus.
- Vaginal: Your gynecologist removes the uterus through the vaginal opening.
- Laparoscope-assisted: Your gynecologist inserts a thin, flexible tube with a video camera in the abdomen near the navel. The uterus is removed in sections via the laparoscope or the vagina.
After the procedure, regardless of the method used, your gynecologist will send the uterus and other tissues that have been removed to a laboratory for examination.
After the Procedure
After your surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room. After you are awake and your blood pressure, pulse and breathing are normal, you will go to your hospital room.
It is normal to have some abdominal cramping post-surgery and you will likely experience some vaginal drainage. You may get pain medicine if you need it. Your healthcare team will assist in your recovery and answer any questions you may have.
At home, you will need to keep the incision clean and dry and follow the bathing directions your gynecologist provides. They will also give you other instructions, such as avoiding strenuous activity and drinking plenty of liquids.