A hysterectomy is major surgery to remove your uterus, or womb. In a total hysterectomy your cervix is also removed.
Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy if you have cancer of the uterus or if symptoms, such as heavy bleeding, haven’t improved with simpler treatments.
Types of hysterectomy
Hysterectomy surgery may be:
– abdominal – your uterus is removed through a cut in your lower abdomen
– vaginal – your uterus is removed through your vagina
– laparoscopic (keyhole) – instruments are passed through small incisions in and near your belly button.
Why should I have a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy may be recommended if you have:
– cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium or ovaries
– non-cancerous tumors in your uterus
– endometriosis– when the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus
– incontinence, pelvic pressure or difficulty with bowel movements
– irregular, heavy or very long periods
– chronic pelvic pain (after other possible causes have been ruled out)
Unless you have cancer, other treatments, such as medication or other surgical procedures, are usually recommended first. Depending on your medical problem, it may be recommended you also have your cervix, ovaries or fallopian tubes removed.
Recovering from a hysterectomy
A hysterectomy has risks such as heavy bleeding and infection, as well as effects from the anaesthetic. You will be in hospital for at least 2 days, and perhaps longer.
There may be vaginal bleeding and discharge for up to a few weeks after surgery. You won’t be able to lift heavy objects or do anything strenuous for at least a few weeks. It can also be tiring to stand for long periods of time.
Some women find a hysterectomy emotionally difficult, worrying that they have lost something important about being a woman. Others find they feel much better, especially if symptoms like heavy bleeding have gone.
You should seek medical advice if you develop nausea, vomiting, worsening pain, or bleeding that’s heavier than a menstrual period.