Skip to content

Women's Health

Select An Article

Hysterectomy

Font Size

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman's uterus. A woman may have a hysterectomy for different reasons, including:

  • Uterine fibroids that cause pain, bleeding, or other problems
  • Uterine prolapse, which is a sliding of the uterus from its normal position into the vaginal canal
  • Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries
  • Endometriosis
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Adenomyosis, or a thickening of the uterus  

Hysterectomy for noncancerous reasons is usually considered only after all other treatment approaches have been tried without success.

Recommended Related to Women

4 Medications That Can Cause or Worsen Incontinence

If you are showing signs of urinary incontinence or if your incontinence problem seems to be getting worse, take stock of your medicine cabinet. Not for a new remedy, but to find overlooked causes of incontinence, or the explanation for your worsening symptoms. Commonly recommended medications could be the cause of your incontinence, or at least contributing to them. Medications affect people differently, so one person with incontinence may not notice worsening symptoms, while another person...

Read the 4 Medications That Can Cause or Worsen Incontinence article > >

Types of Hysterectomy

Depending on the reason for the hysterectomy, a surgeon may choose to remove all or only part of the uterus. Patients and health care providers sometimes use these terms inexactly, so it is important to clarify if the cervix and/or ovaries are removed:

  • In a supracervial or subtotal hysterectomy, a surgeon removes only the upper part of the uterus, keeping the cervix in place.
  • A total hysterectomy removes the whole uterus and cervix.
  • In a radical hysterectomy, a surgeon removes the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina. Radical hysterectomy is generally only done when cancer is present.

The ovaries may also be removed -- a procedure called oophorectomy -- or may be left in place.

Surgical Techniques for Hysterectomy

Surgeons use different approaches for hysterectomy, depending on the surgeon’s experience, the reason for the hysterectomy, and a woman's overall health. The hysterectomy technique will partly determine healing time and the kind of scar, if any, that remains after the operation.

There are two approaches to surgery – a traditional or open surgery and surgery using a minimally invasive procedure or MIP.

 

Open Surgery Hysterectomy

An abdominal hysterectomy is an open surgery. This is the most common approach to hysterectomy, accounting for about 65% of all procedures.

To perform an abdominal hysterectomy, a surgeon makes a 5- to 7-inch incision, either up-and-down or side-to-side, across the belly. The surgeon then removes the uterus through this incision.

On average, a woman spends more than three days in the hospital following an abdominal hysterectomy. There is also, after healing, a visible scar at the location of the incision.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
woman in bathtub
Slideshow
Doctor discussing screening with patient
VIDEO
 
bp app on smartwatch and phone
Slideshow
iud
Expert views
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
Slideshow
hot water bottle on stomach
Quiz
 
question
Assessment
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
Quiz