Conception takes place in the uterus, also known as the womb. A number of problems can develop in the uterus, and while medication can be used to treat some symptoms, more serious conditions may require removal of the uterus. This is called a hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy is generally a last resort for noncancerous cases, and your doctor may explore more conservative treatment options before recommending it. However, hysterectomy might be necessary for certain conditions.

Why You Might Need It

There are several conditions that might require a hysterectomy:

  • Cancer in the uterus, cervix or ovaries
  • Uterine prolapse: This condition is when the uterus falls into the vagina and is usually caused by weak muscles and ligaments.
  • Fibroids: These are small tumors in the uterus that cause bleeding, pain and pressure.
  • Unusual bleeding in the vagina
  • Chronic pain in the pelvis
  • Endometriosis, which affects the lining of the uterus.

Other treatment options are available for some of these conditions. However, in some cases it may be necessary.

Types

There are three general types of hysterectomy, depending on which parts of the uterus and reproductive system are removed:

  • Subtotal hysterectomy: This procedure involves removal of only the top part of the uterus. The cervix is kept in the body.
  • Total hysterectomy: Both the uterus and cervix are fully removed in a total hysterectomy.
  • Radical hysterectomy: This procedure removes both the uterus and cervix, and the tissue on both sides of the uterus and the top of the vagina. Radical hysterectomy is usually only for cases of cancer that have spread.

Techniques

There are two general techniques a surgeon will use to perform a hysterectomy, depending on factors ranging from health of the patient and her condition to the surgeon’s own level of experience and preference. The two techniques are as follows:

  • Open surgery hysterectomy: The most common form, covering about 65 percent of all hysterectomies. This is where an incision is made in the abdomen, and the uterus is removed through it. It will leave a visible scar in most cases.
  • MIP hysterectomy: MIP stands for minimally invasive procedure, and there are a few different kinds. One involves making a cut in the vagina to remove the uterus, and another involves a video tube and a cut made in the belly button. These less invasive forms may not cause scarring, and are preferable to some women if  they are safe for their particular condition.

Recovery and Aftermath

In cases where the ovaries were removed, hysterectomy will trigger menopause. In cases where the ovaries remain intact, women will usually enter menopause at an earlier age than they normally would have. Recovery includes abstaining from sex and lifting heavy objects for about six weeks.

Risks

There are a few risks that come with hysterectomy—though rare—and most women find a very high success rate with no complications. Risks include:

  • • Chronic pain issues
  • • Vaginal prolapse (part of the vagina leaving the body)
  • • Urinary incontinence
  • • Fistula formation (a connection between the vagina and bladder)

If you’re experiencing pain or complications in your reproductive organs, speak to your OB/GYN provider. If hysterectomy is necessary to treat your condition, they can guide you through every step.

Obstetricians/gynecologists at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause.

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