A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure carried out to remove a woman’s uterus. There are many reasons why people get hysterectomies, and it is a common procedure. Once the uterus is removed, a woman will no longer have periods and will not be able to get pregnant.
A hysterectomy can be the chosen procedure for any problem that causes significant pain or symptoms to a woman’s reproductive system, affecting their quality of life. Examples include heavy periods (caused by fibroids or adenomyosis), endometriosis (when tissue from the womb starts growing in other places), ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and uterine cancer too. With cancer, a hysterectomy may be the only reasonable treatment option but for other causes, a hysterectomy will often be the last consideration and will be used if other less invasive treatments have been tried.
There are 4 types of hysterectomy. Total hysterectomy is where the womb and cervix (neck of the womb) are removed.
Subtotal hysterectomy is where the womb is removed but the cervix (neck of the womb) is left in place.
Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy –this is where the womb, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed.
Radical hysterectomy is where the womb and surrounding tissues are removed, including the cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries part of the vagina, lymph glands, and fatty tissue. Hysterectomies can be performed laparoscopically (also known as keyhole surgery) where the organs are removed through small cuts in the abdomen. It can be performed via a cut at the top of the vagina or through a cut in the lower tummy.
There is a small risk of bleeding, infection, and damage to surrounding organs when undergoing a hysterectomy. Your surgeon will discuss this with you in detail before you undergo any surgery.
Without your female reproductive organs you will not be able to have children. This is something that some women may need counseling about, especially if they have not had children before. It is important if you have the time and ability to do so, to consider all your options thoroughly.
If your ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy, you will go through menopause immediately after the operation. If your ovaries are left behind, you will probably go through menopause within 5 years of the operation. When this occurs you will be offered hormone replacement therapy to replace the hormones affected by the operation.
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