A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your womb (uterus). After the operation you will no longer be able to have children.
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your womb (uterus). After the operation you will no longer be able to have children. If you have not yet gone through the menopause, you will no longer have periods.
Why is it Recommended?
A hysterectomy is used to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system, such as heavy periods (menorrhagia), chronic (long-term) pelvic pain, non-cancerous tumours (fibroids) and cancer of the ovaries, womb, cervix or fallopian tubes.
A hysterectomy is a major operation with a long recovery time. It is usually only considered after alternative, less invasive treatments have been tried.
Types of hysterectomy
There are different types of hysterectomy. The type you have depends on the reason for your surgery and how much of the womb and surrounding reproductive system can safely be left in place. The main types include:
- Total hysterectomy: this is the most commonly performed operation. The womb and cervix (neck of the womb) are removed
- Subtotal hysterectomy: the main body of the womb is removed leaving the cervix (neck of the womb) in place.
- Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: the womb, cervix, fallopian tubes (salpingectomy) and the ovaries (oophorectomy) are removed.
- Radical hysterectomy: the womb and surrounding tissues are removed, including the fallopian tubes, part of the vagina, ovaries, lymph glands and fatty tissue.
There are three ways to perform a hysterectomy:
- Vaginal hysterectomy: the womb is removed through a cut in the top of the vagina.
- Abdominal hysterectomy: the womb is removed through a cut in the lower abdomen.
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy (keyhole surgery): the womb is removed through a number of small cuts in the abdomen.
If you have a hysterectomy that also removes your ovaries, you will go through the menopause immediately following your operation, regardless of your age. This is known as a surgical menopause.
If a hysterectomy leaves one or both of your ovaries intact, there is a chance you will go through the menopause within five years of your operation. Hysterectomy is a common operation. Most hysterectomies are performed on women aged between 40 and 50.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) involves giving hormones to women when the menopause starts to replace those that the body no longer produces.
The Female Reproductive Organs
The female reproductive system is made up of the following:
- Womb (uterus): a pear-shaped organ in the middle of your pelvis where a baby develops. During a period the lining of the womb is shed.
- Cervix: the neck of the womb, where the womb meets the vagina. The cervix is the lower part of the womb and not separate.
- Vagina: a muscular tube below the cervix.
- Fallopian tubes: These are also called oviducts or uterine tubes. They are the two tubes that connect the uterus to the ovaries in the female reproductive system.
- Ovaries: Ovaries are the pair of reproductive organs that produce eggs and sex hormones in females.