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Hysterectomy - Topic Overview

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is surgery to take out a woman's uterus, the organ in a woman's belly where a baby grows during pregnancy. After a hysterectomy, you will not be able to get pregnant.

Other organs might also be removed if you have severe problems such as endometriosis or cancer. These organs include the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina), the ovaries (glands on both sides of the uterus that release eggs for pregnancy), and the fallopian tubes (the passageway between the uterus and the ovaries).

Whether or not the ovaries are removed will depend on your age and risk for certain types of cancer. For example, removing the ovaries lowers the risk of ovarian cancer and some types of breast cancer. But if you have your ovaries removed before the age of menopause, you will go into early menopause, and you may be more likely to get heart disease or osteoporosis. Be sure to discuss with your doctor all the benefits and risks of removing your ovaries.

See a picture of the female reproductive system camera.gif.

What problems does this surgery treat?

Most often, hysterectomy is done to treat problems with the uterus, such as pain and heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis or fibroid tumors. The surgery may also be needed if there is cancer in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Some women may have the surgery during childbirth to save their lives if there is heavy bleeding that cannot be stopped.

Before you choose to have a hysterectomy, consider all of your treatment options. In many cases, this surgery is a last resort after trying other treatments for the problem.

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