A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of a woman's uterus . Hysterectomy is usually done to treat cancer, chronic pain, or heavy bleeding that has not been controlled with less invasive techniques.
Because you cannot get pregnant after a hysterectomy, other medications or procedures are sometimes tried beforehand. Some women wait for a hysterectomy to complete their families. Just keep in mind that if you choose an option other than hysterectomy, you may need additional treatment later.
As for what happens during a hysterectomy, there are three different types of hysterectomies that can be performed, and which one your surgeon chooses depends on why you need it in the first place .
Total or total hysterectomy
This type of hysterectomy involves the removal of both the uterus and the cervix . Most women who have had a hysterectomy have a complete or total hysterectomy.
Partial or subtotal hysterectomy (supracervical hysterectomy)
This type of hysterectomy involves removing the upper two-thirds of the uterus and leaving the lower third of the uterus, called the cervix, intact. Women who have never had abnormal Pap test results may be candidates for this type of hysterectomy. Some believe that a partial or subtotal hysterectomy can help reduce the effects of sex. This can be done laparoscopically or abdominally .
In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, cervix, upper part of the vagina, and supporting tissues are removed. In some cases of cancer, a radical hysterectomy may be necessary .
When the ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed during a hysterectomy, it is called a bilateral hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy . Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is generally performed in the United States . Removal of the ovaries before a woman reaches natural menopause often results in an induced or surgical menopause.
Types of hysterectomy procedures
In addition to removing organs and tissues, several types of surgical procedures are used when performing a hysterectomy.
- Abdominal hysterectomy: This surgery gives the surgeon a better understanding of what is happening in your pelvis. This is done with an incision in the abdomen, which can be vertical or horizontal, leaving a scar. This can be done if there are adhesions or if the uterus is very large. The downsides are that there is a higher risk of complications compared to less invasive procedures. These risks include infection, bleeding, blood clots, and nerve and tissue damage. You may also need a longer hospital stay.
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a laparoscope . Surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. The uterus is removed in parts, either through incisions or through the vagina. The advantages over an abdominal hysterectomy are that there is often less pain, less risk of infection, and less time in the hospital. But there is still a risk of injuring the urinary tract and other organs.
- Vaginal hysterectomy: This hysterectomy is performed completely through the vagina , avoiding abdominal incisions or scarring. This is usually the first option, unless there is a reason for more invasive procedures, such as adhesions or a large uterus. You should have a shorter healing time and should return to your normal activities than with other types of hysterectomy.
Get the word of drug information
Be sure to ask your surgeon questions before your hysterectomy so that you understand the procedure, risks , side effects, and expected recovery time. It is important to understand the surgical procedure itself, the conditions that make a hysterectomy medically necessary, and the details of any alternative procedures that may be more appropriate for you.