Basics of Undergoing a Hysterectomy

What You Need to Know

As with undergoing any major medical procedure, being well informed is a top priority when considering a hysterectomy. The second most common surgery for women after C-sections, hysterectomies are performed frequently throughout the world. In America, it is estimated that one out of every three women may undergo this procedure before the age of 60. Although safe, a hysterectomy does entail some risks and can certainly impact the lives of women physically and emotionally. If your doctor has diagnosed a condition that may be treated by a hysterectomy, considering the following information can aid you in understanding the procedure.

Reasons for a Hysterectomy

Studies have estimated that anywhere from 10 to 90 percent of hysterectomies are medically unnecessary. While the procedure was once the standard in treating a variety of female reproductive conditions and disease, new breakthroughs in medical technology have expanded treatment options for many types of conditions. This does not mean, however, that a hysterectomy is always avoidable. Generally, hysterectomies may be avoided by opting for alternative treatments or excision surgery; however, hysterectomies may be necessary when cases are severe or other treatments have failed. In some cases, whether to undergo the procedure may simply be a matter of personal choice. Your doctor can help you understand your condition, how it will impact your life, and the available treatment approaches.

Types of Hysterectomy Surgery

Anyone considering a hysterectomy should be aware that there are various types of hysterectomy surgeries. Categorized by the nature of the procedure itself, these may include:

  • Partial hysterectomy - A hysterectomy surgery is considered a partial hysterectomy when only the upper portion of the uterus is removed and the cervix is left intact. Other reproductive organs, may or may not be removed. Supracervial and subtotal hysterectomies are partial hysterectomy surgeries.
  • Total hysterectomy - A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the entire uterus and the cervix. When one or both ovaries are also removed, the procedure is known as oophorectomy. When a total hysterectomy also entails the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes, it is referred to as saplingo-oophorectomy hysterectomy.
  • Radial hysterectomy - Radical hysterectomies are used when cancerous cells or tumors are present. Typically, it will involve a total hysterectomy and possibly the removal of ovaries, fallopian tubes, and lymph nodes in the abdomen and / or pelvis.

Any of these procedures can be performed through various means, including vaginal hysterectomy (uterus removed through the vagina) and abdominal hysterectomy (uterus removed through an incision in the lower abdomen). New surgical techniques and technology have also allowed for a hysterectomy surgery to be performed with the assistance of a laparoscope (surgical instrument with a tiny camera attached) or as robotic hysterectomy (computerized surgical instruments are controlled by the surgeon). Although very safe, all types of hysterectomy surgery entail some risks, including surgical complications, infection, and blood loss.

Post-Hysterectomy Considerations

A hysterectomy can impact your life in profound ways. After the removal of the uterus, either partially or in total, you will no longer be able to bear children. Additionally, hormone changes can cause you to undergo menopause sooner than expected and some women may require hormone therapy treatment. Women who undergo this procedure may also face additional challenges in the form of emotional and sexual side effects.

Understanding the basics of undergoing a hysterectomy is only a starting point in the journey toward making a decision about your treatment. A difficult and challenging experience, this process can be made easier with factual information, support, and resources. At, we make it our mission to educate women about the various aspects of hysterectomy surgery, the alternative treatment options available, and how this life-changing experience can be more easily navigated. If you have any questions or concerns about hysterectomy surgery and whether it is right for you, please do not hesitate to fill out a contact form today.