Medical Q&As

Subtotal hysterectomy - why?

I would like to ask if you could give me a reason why the doctor at my local hospital carried out a sub total hysterectomy on me instead of a full one as he was supposed to, knowing that my mother had cervical cancer and I was told I was at risk.

I think that you should address your question to the doctor that performed your operation since there may be specific reasons why he decided to perform a subtotal hysterectomy in your case. Subtotal hysterectomy means that the body or main bulk of the uterus is removed but the cervix is left behind. In most of these cases the fallopian tubes and ovaries are also left intact. Subtotal hysterectomy may be performed to avoid some of the difficulties that can be associated with total hysterectomy. Total hysterectomy usually involves some degree of shortening of the vagina, which may contribute to pain during intercourse. The “subtotal” procedure may also be performed to retain the cervix because stimulation of the cervix may be an important element in a woman achieving orgasm during sexual intercourse. Another reason is that if the cervix is removed the bladder must be completely detached from the uterus, which may increase the risk of vaginal prolapse. With regard to your fear about cervical cancer there is no evidence that women who have undergone subtotal hysterectomy have experienced a higher incidence of cervical cancer than the general population. Some doctors would also argue that if the cervix is healthy and disease free why remove it. I have given this answer in general terms and would suggest that you enquire further about the specific reasons for performing a subtotal hysterectomy in your specific case.