A hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure that is used to remove the uterus.  It may be recommended to treat cancer or uterine conditions that do not respond to other types of treatment.  Once a hysterectomy is performed, a woman can no longer become pregnant.

A hysterectomy may be advised as a treatment for endometrial (uterine) cancer, pre-cervical cancer, cervical cancer, or ovarian cancer.  It may also be used to treat uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, and severe chronic bleeding that does not respond to other types of treatments. 

The uterus may be partially or completely removed.  A partial or supracervical hysterectomy removes just the upper part of the uterus and leaves the cervix in place.  A total hysterectomy removes the entire uterus and the cervix.  A radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, parametrium (the tissue on the side of the cervix), and the upper vagina.  During a hysterectomy, the fallopian tubes and ovaries may be removed as well. 

Hysterectomy is non-reversible, meaning that once the reproductive organs are removed, they cannot be replaced.  Women that have a hysterectomy will not be able to become pregnant or give birth to babies.  Following hysterectomy, your sexual function should remain about the same as it was before your surgery.

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The type of hysterectomy that you receive depends on your medical condition.  In some cases, certain medical conditions may be treated with non-surgical methods instead of hysterectomy.  Your doctor will help you understand all of your options to ensure that you make an informed decision.
A hysterectomy may be performed through an incision in your abdomen or vagina.  A less invasive type of surgery, laparoscopic hysterectomy, uses small incisions and a laparoscope to guide the surgery.  A laparoscope is a type of endoscope.  It consists of a thin tube with a light and viewing instrument.  Images from the laparoscope may be sent to a video monitor.  Thin surgical instruments are inserted through the laparoscope during the surgery.
You will need to stay in the hospital for a few days following your procedure.  Recovery from laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy is usually quicker than from abdominal hysterectomy and involves less pain.  A complete recovery may take from two weeks to two months.
The surgery will cause immediate surgical menopause if you had your ovaries removed with your uterus and had not experienced natural menopause.  You will no longer have menstrual periods.  Your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to ease the hormonal transition.

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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.