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Hysterectomy

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There are different types of hysterectomies, and which one you get depends on your condition. The following are the main types:

  • Total – both the womb and cervix are removed
  • Subtotal – the womb is removed, but the cervix remains
  • Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed, along with the womb and cervix
  • Radical – your fallopian tubes, ovaries, parts of your vagina, lymph glands and/or fatty tissue might be removed along with your womb and cervix in order to remove and treat cancer

Why would I need a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy might be carried out if you have the following:

  • Heavy periods
  • Endometriosis
  • Adenomyosis
  • Fibroids
  • Uterine prolapse
  • Uterine or endometrial cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cancer of the fallopian tubes

What symptoms does a hysterectomy address?

A hysterectomy will help cure problems related to having heavy periods or be an important part of the treatment to treat certain gynaecological cancers. If you are undergoing an abdominal hysterectomy to treat a condition that is causing you pain (e.g. endometriosis), the majority of women find relief from pain afterwards.

Because your womb is removed during an abdominal hysterectomy, you will no longer be able to get pregnant after this procedure.

When should you speak to your specialist about a hysterectomy?

If you are suffering from any of the above conditions or symptoms, and no longer wish to have a child, you might consider talking to your specialist about the possibility of undergoing a hysterectomy.

How is a hysterectomy performed?

There are three different ways a hysterectomy can be performed:

  • Laparoscopic – when a small tube that contains a telescope and video camera are inserted through small incisions in your tummy and the uterus and any other parts are removed through them. This is also called keyhole surgery
  • Vaginal – when your uterus and cervix are removed through your vagina
  • Abdominal – a larger incision is made on your abdomen and the uterus and any other parts are removed. This is required for patients whose womb is particularly enlarged and unable to be removed through the vagina

What is the recovery for a hysterectomy?

Your recovery from a hysterectomy can depend on many factors, including the type of procedure that you have had.

Generally, it takes around six to eight weeks to fully recover from a hysterectomy, as it is a major operation.

You and your surgeon will discuss what you can expect after your surgery and what the best options will be for your recovery.

Are there any risks/complications associated with a hysterectomy?

As with any medical procedure, it is possible for risks or complications to arise. It is best that you speak with your specialist or surgeon about how best to avoid any adverse reactions.

Some risks that have been associated with a hysterectomy are:

  • Damage to the structures close to your womb, including your bladder, bowels and ureters
  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence (the splitting of a wound)
  • Developing a blood clot
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Change in bowel or bladder habit

How can I prepare for a hysterectomy?

You should discuss the specific preparations that you should make prior to surgery with your surgeon, as they can vary from person to person.

Prior to your hysterectomy, you might have blood tests and a general health assessment done.

If you have any questions or concerns about your hysterectomy, it is integral to discuss them with your surgeon prior to your surgery.

Are there alternatives for a hysterectomy?

Depending on what symptoms you are experiencing or condition you have, it may be possible to explore alternatives prior to getting a hysterectomy.

For example, heavy periods can be mitigated by using oral medications, a hormone releasing coil, or by removing just the lining of your womb (“endometrial ablation”).

You and your specialist or gynaecologist should discuss the best options for you.

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