What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation in which the womb (uterus) is removed. It is one of the most frequently performed operations.

There are three types of hysterectomy a woman can have:


When is a hysterectomy necessary?

A hysterectomy may be necessary for the following conditions:

Remember a hysterectomy is not always necessary in these conditions. Alternative treatments may be available. You should ask your doctor about other options if a hysterectomy is recommended.

What happens after the operation?

You will remain in hospital for a few days. However you will be encouraged to get mobile within the first 24 hours. You should also try to eat and drink during this time.

Once you get home recovery time varies, however it will probably take around four to six weeks. Convalescence time is usually longer for women who have had a radical hysterectomy.

This can be quite a difficult time for the woman. If the hysterectomy was carried out to treat cancer, the waiting time for results from the operation is likely to be stressful.

It can be difficult for a woman to come to terms with the loss of her womb, even where the condition being treated is benign and even if she was not planning to have any (more) children. There may be a real sense of loss or regret.

Some women may get depressed after a hysterectomy. These women should be encouraged to discuss how they are feeling with family, friends, a doctor or a support group.

On the other hand, some women may feel much happier after a hysterectomy as whatever problem necessitated the operation is now gone.

Will a hysterectomy affect my sex life?

Some women may experience some loss of sex drive (libido) after a hysterectomy, however most women do not experience a decrease in their sex-drive. In fact, many women experience an improvement in their sex life.

This is especially true if, whatever condition necessitated the operation in the first place, made sexual intercourse painful or uncomfortable.

Most women can start to have intercourse again around six weeks after their hysterectomy.

What are some of the possible complications of a hysterectomy?

When complications occur, they are usually minor. They can include:

Are there other consequences of hysterectomy?

Women who have had a hysterectomy will no longer be able to have children, she will no longer have menstrual periods and will not need to use contraception.

If the ovaries have been removed, it is important to consider hormone replacement therapy. Women, especially younger women, who have had their ovaries surgically removed are particularly at risk of developing osteoporosis which can be prevented by taking hormone replacement therapy. Women who have had a hysterectomy will require oestrogen alone. This can be given in the form of tablets, patches or implants.

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