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A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman's uterus (womb). The uterus is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. In some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes also are removed. These organs are located in a woman’s lower abdomen (see image below). The cervix is the lower end of the uterus. The ovaries are organs that produce eggs and hormones. The fallopian tubes carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.
Image Source: National Cancer Institute
There are several types of hysterectomies:
Often one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed at the same time a hysterectomy is done.
If you haven't reached menopause (when you haven't had a period for 12 months in a row), a hysterectomy will stop your monthly bleeding (periods). You also won't be able to get pregnant. And you may have menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. If both ovaries are removed as well, you will suddenly enter menopause.
A hysterectomy is the second most common surgery among women in the United States. (The most common is cesarean section delivery.) Each year, more than 600,000 are done. One in three women in the United States has had a hysterectomy by age 60.
Hysterectomies are done through a cut in the abdomen (abdominal hysterectomy) or the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy). Sometimes an instrument called a laparoscope is used to help see inside the abdomen during vaginal hysterectomy. The type of surgery that is done depends on the reason for the surgery. Abdominal hysterectomies are more common and usually require a longer recovery time.
Recovering from a hysterectomy takes time. You will stay in the hospital from one to two days for postsurgery care. Some women may stay in the hospital up to four days.
For both, by the sixth week, you should be able to take tub baths and resume sexual activities.
Hysterectomy is used to treat:
A hysterectomy involves some major and minor risks. Most women do not have problems during or after the operation. Some risks include:
Women who have had a hysterectomy, in which one or both ovaries are removed, can have lowered sexual desire and decreased pleasure and orgasm. If you have problems with sexual desire or functioning, talk to your doctor.
If you have cancer, a hysterectomy might be the only option. But if you have uterine fibroids, endometriosis or uterine prolapse, there are other treatments you can try first.
Talk to your doctor about nonsurgical treatments to try first. Doing so is really important if the recommendation for a hysterectomy is for a reason other than cancer.
Ask your doctor if you need to have periodic Pap tests. Regardless of whether you need a Pap test or not, all women who have had a hysterectomy must continue to have regular gynecologic exams.
*cited from: Womenshealth.gov