Hysterectomy Q & A
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the uterus. Depending on your needs and preferences, the surgeon may also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix during this procedure.
Because the procedure removes your uterus, a hysterectomy ends your ability to become pregnant. If your ovaries are removed, you’ll also experience surgical menopause after the procedure. Before scheduling this procedure, it’s important to understand and consider these effects carefully.
When is a Hysterectomy Necessary?
A hysterectomy may be necessary for many different situations. Some of the most common issues that lead to a hysterectomy include:
- Cervical or uterine cancer
- Uterine prolapse
- Uncontrollable pelvic pain
- Large uterine fibroids
- Severe endometriosis
- Abnormal bleeding that doesn’t respond to other treatments
Many of these problems can be addressed in other ways. However, a hysterectomy is the best option for some women.
What Types of Hysterectomies are Available?
Surgeons can perform three main types of hysterectomies:
- Vaginal hysterectomy: The surgeon removes your uterus through your vagina. No incisions are necessary for this procedure.
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy: The surgeon removes your uterus through tiny incisions in the abdomen.
- Open hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the uterus through a larger incision in the abdomen.
Vaginal hysterectomies and laparoscopic hysterectomies involve fewer risks and possible complications than an open procedure. However, some women may not be good candidates for less invasive surgeries. For example, if your uterus is very large, an open procedure may be your only option.
What are the Risks?
Like every surgery, hysterectomies do carry some risks. With every type of hysterectomy, you’ll need to be under general anesthesia. General anesthesia always poses a small risk of allergic reactions and other problems.
When you undergo a hysterectomy, you’ll also be at risk of excessive bleeding, infection, and damage to nearby tissues.
In general, vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies are safer than a traditional open hysterectomy. Less invasive procedures also tend to be less expensive. Your doctor determines whether you’re a good candidate for one of these less invasive procedures.