A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the womb (uterus) which is carried out to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system, including:
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
- Long-term pelvic pain
- Non-cancerous tumours (fibroids)
- Ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer or cancer of the fallopian tubes.
There are three different types of hysterectomy and the type of hysterectomy performed will depend on the reason for the surgery and how much of the womb and reproductive system can safely be left in place.
- Total hysterectomy, where the womb and the cervix are removed
- Subtotal hysterectomy, where the womb is removed but the cervix is left in place – this can often be done with keyhole surgery
- Radical hysterectomy, where the cervix and surrounding tissues including the womb and part of the vagina are removed
There are also different ways in which a hysterectomy can be performed
- Vaginal where the womb is removed through the vagina
- Abdominal where the womb is removed through a cut in the abdomen
- Laparoscopic where a few small incisions are made in the abdomen & the womb is removed through one of these.
There are significant advantages of having a laparoscopic hysterectomy over a vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.
- Less Blood loss
- Less pain after the operation
- Shorter stay in hospital (1-3 days)
- Faster recovery time (1-2 weeks instead of 4-6)
- Minimal scarring.
The ovaries are usually left in place because they produce oestrogen. If the ovaries are removed this will induce the menopause.
After a hysterectomy, you will no longer have periods or be able to become pregnant.