This webpage will give you information about a hysterectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or relevant health professional.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus. Usually the cervix is also removed. If necessary the ovaries can be removed at the same time.
The common reasons for having an abdominal hysterectomy include heavy periods, fibroids and ovarian cysts.
What are the benefits of surgery?
A hysterectomy may cure or improve your symptoms. You will no longer have periods.
Are there any alternatives to an Abdominal Hysterectomy?
Heavy periods can be treated using oral medications, a hormonal coil in the uterus, or by removing only the lining of the womb.
Depending on the size and position of fibroids, you can take medication to try to control the symptoms. Other treatments include surgery to remove the fibroids only or uterine artery embolisation.
What does the operation involve?
An abdominal hysterectomy is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about an hour.
Your gynaecologist will make a cut on your abdomen, usually in the ‘bikini’ line (see figure 1).
They will remove your womb usually along with your cervix through the cut. To remove the cervix they will also need to make a cut at the top of your vagina.
What complications can happen?
1 General complications
- Feeling or being sick
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clots
- Unsightly scarring
2 Specific complications
- Pelvic infection or abscess
- Damage to internal organs
- Developing a fistula
- Developing a haematoma
- Continued pain
- Stress incontinence
- Menopause, even if your ovaries are not removed
How soon will I recover?
You will usually be able to go home after four to six days.
For the first two weeks at home you should rest and continue to do the exercises that you were shown in hospital. You can usually go back to work after six to twelve weeks.
After three months you should be feeling more or less back to normal.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
A hysterectomy is a major operation usually recommended after simpler treatments have failed.
Author: Mr Jeremy Hawe MBChB MRCOG
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2011 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.