Although it is the most common gynecological procedure performed with over 600,000 people each year in the U.S., a hysterectomy is still a serious procedure that deserves your attention. Fortunately, you have time to consider all of your options, as most hysterectomies or uterine removal surgery are not considered emergency procedures.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus to treat certain gynecological diseases, including in some cases cancer of the uterus. There are several types of hysterectomy, including:
- Total hysterectomy – Also called a complete hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterine body (called the corpus), the fundus (dome of the uterus) and the cervix (neck of the cervix).
- Partial hysterectomy – Also known as a supracervical hysterectomy, in which all or part of the cervix is left and only the fundus and body of the uterus are removed.
- Radical hysterectomy – Removes all parts of the uterus and other tissues near the pelvis. This usually happens with cervical cancer.
Hysterectomies can be performed in two ways. The first is called a vaginal hysterectomy, the other an abdominal hysterectomy, where an incision is made in the abdomen.
Advantages of a hysterectomy
If your doctor suggests that you consider hysterectomy, there are medical reasons why this would be beneficial. These can be:
- Chronic pelvic pain – A hysterectomy can be considered if you have severe pain in the uterus and all other treatments have failed.
- Persistent heavy bleeding – With longer, irregular or heavy periods, a hysterectomy can correct the problem and remedy the situation.
Fibroids – Some women with fibroids do not experience discomfort or pain, while others experience bleeding, bladder pressure, anemia, and pain. In these cases, a doctor may suggest a hysterectomy after exploring other options.
- Uterine prolapse – If the uterus falls into the vagina, this is caused by the weakening of the tissue that supports the uterus. This leads to incontinence, pelvic pressure and difficult bowel movements. The only way to fix this problem can be a hysterectomy.
- Gynecological cancer – In some cases of cervical or uterine cancer, a hysterectomy may be the best option.
A hysterectomy relieves a woman of her monthly menstrual cycle.
In most cases, the removal of the uterus is straightforward. As with any surgical procedure, risk factors exist and must be considered. These include:
- Early menopause
- blood clots
- Heavy bleeding
- Damage to the urinary tract, bladder or rectum
- Side effects of anesthesia
- Death in very rare cases
Talk to your doctor about all options when considering a hysterectomy.