Hysterectomy is surgery to remove a woman's womb (uterus). The uterus is a hollow muscular organ that nourishes the developing baby during pregnancy.
You may have all or part of the uterus removed during a hysterectomy. The fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed.
There are many different ways to perform a hysterectomy. It may be done through:
You and your doctor will decide which type of procedure. The choice will depend on your medical history and the reason for the surgery.
There are many reasons a woman may need a hysterectomy, including:
Hysterectomy is a major surgery. Some conditions can be treated with less invasive procedures such as:
Risks of any surgery are:
Risks of a hysterectomy are:
Before deciding to have a hysterectomy, ask your health care provider what to expect after the procedure. Many women notice changes in their body and in how they feel about themselves after a hysterectomy. Talk with provider, family, and friends about these possible changes before you have surgery.
Tell your health care team about all the medicines you are taking. These include herbs, supplements, and other medicines you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of your surgery:
After surgery, you will be given pain medicines.
You may also have a tube, called a catheter, inserted into your bladder to pass urine. Most of the time, the catheter is removed before leaving the hospital.
You will be asked to get up and move around as soon as possible after surgery. This helps prevent blood clots from forming in your legs and speeds recovery.
You will be asked to get up to use the bathroom as soon as you are able. You may return to a normal diet as soon as you can without causing nausea and vomiting.
How long you stay in the hospital depends on the type of hysterectomy.
How long it takes you to recover depends on the type of hysterectomy. Average recovery times are:
A hysterectomy will cause menopause if you also have your ovaries removed. Removal of the ovaries can also lead to a decreased sex drive. Your doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy. Discuss with your provider the risks and benefits of this therapy.
If the hysterectomy was done for cancer, you may need further treatment.
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.