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
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 .
What problems does this surgery treat?
hysterectomy is done to treat problems with the uterus, such as pain and heavy
bleeding caused by
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.
How is the surgery done?
There are many different
ways to do hysterectomy surgery. The type of surgery you have depends on three
main things: the reason for the surgery, the size of the uterus and its
position in the belly, and your overall health. The most common types
- Abdominal hysterectomy. In this type, the
doctor makes a cut in the belly, either across the bikini line or straight up
and down. The doctor takes out the uterus and the cervix. This type is most
often done when cancer might be present or when severe endometriosis, a lot of
scar tissue (adhesions), or a very large uterus makes the uterus
hard to remove.
- Vaginal hysterectomy. With this type, the doctor
takes out the uterus through the vagina. He or she makes a small cut in the
vagina instead of the belly. Your doctor will not use this method when there is
a chance that cancer may be in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Doctors use this
type of surgery only in cases where the uterus is small and easy to remove.
- Laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH). To do this
surgery, the doctor puts a lighted tube (laparoscope)
through small cuts in your belly. The doctor can see your organs with the scope
and can insert surgical tools to cut the tissue that holds your uterus in
place. Then he or she can remove the uterus through your vagina.
- Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH). With LSH, the
doctor inserts the scope and tools through small cuts in your belly. He or she
takes out the uterus in small pieces and leaves the cervix in place.
- Total laparoscopic
hysterectomy (TLH). In this type, the doctor inserts a scope and tools through
several small cuts in the belly. The doctor takes out the uterus and the cervix
in small pieces through one of the cuts.