Introduction to Hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that results in the removal of the uterus (womb).
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that results in the removal of the uterus (womb). After the operation you can no longer get pregnant and will not have anymore periods like in postmenopausal women.
Women can have hysterectomies for many reasons such as heavy periods, pain and/or removal of cancers or tumours. The commonest age for women to have this procedure done is around the age of 40-50 years old. It is a major operation and your doctor will have to discuss the extent of what to remove (e.g. ovaries and/or cervix as well). There are different types and different methods that can be performed. Your surgeon will discuss the risks, complication and recovery times in your preoperative consultations.
How is a Hysterectomy performed?
There are different types of hysterectomy and it depends on the reason why you are having the operation. A total hysterectomy involves removal of the womb and cervix; this is the most widely performed operation. A subtotal hysterectomy is the same but the cervix is not removed. A total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy involves removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries as well. A radical hysterectomy includes removal of the above alongside lymph nodes, fat and parts of the vagina also being removed.
All of these procedures can be done in three ways. A vaginal hysterectomy is performed via an incision in the vagina (near the top). An abdominal hysterectomy is where the incision is made in the abdomen. The procedures can also be performed laparoscopically, which involves a few small holes in the abdomen being made to perform the operation.
How to prepare for a Hysterectomy?
You doctor will advise you on whether or not to eat and drink before the procedure and will provide resources to understand the risks, complications and reasons for why you need the operation.
What happens after a Hysterectomy?
The recovery time after the operation lasts around a week. You may be off work for approximately two months whilst you fully recover and get back to your normal strength. Depending on the type of procedure and if there were any complications, your recovery time may vary. Recovery time is best spent resting and avoiding strenuous exercise, especially movements or activities that may involve your abdominal muscles.
If you haven’t already gone through the menopause, you may immediately enter menopause postoperatively if the surgery involved removal of both of your ovaries. This is called surgical menopause and your doctor can provide advice and assistance on ways to manage this (e.g. Hormone replacement therapy).