A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb). Doctors may recommend a hysterectomy to treat certain conditions like cancer, heavy and painful periods or uterine fibroids. A hysterectomy can also be used to prevent cervical cancer by removing the cervix.
There are many surgical methods to perform a hysterectomy. The type of procedure you choose will determine how visible the scar is. The more invasive the surgery, the larger the scar.
An abdominal hysterectomy is the most common surgery. It requires a large incision in your stomach to access the area to remove the uterus and, if necessary, other organs. This surgery can take up to 6 weeks for full recovery.
The most common reason for a hysterectomy is for cancer of the uterus or cervix. If cancer is detected in the early stages, a hysterectomy can be followed by radiation or chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.
A hysterectomy is the only effective treatment for uterine fibroids. These are abnormal growths in the uterus that can cause heavy bleeding, anemia, pelvic pain and bladder pressure. A hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix and any other tissue causing the symptoms.
Women who have a hysterectomy will not be able to get pregnant. If the ovaries are removed with the uterus, you will start menopause earlier than usual. Hormone replacement therapy can help ease the symptoms of menopause.