By Dr. Cynthia Abraham Vaginal infections are common—I see them all the time as an ob-gyn. Unusual discharge and itching can tell you something’s not quite right down there. The good news is that most
What is a hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus. It is a very common type of surgery for women in the United States. Removing your uterus means that you can no longer get pregnant.
Why is hysterectomy done?
Hysterectomy is used to treat many women’s health conditions. Some of these conditions include
Are there alternatives to hysterectomy?
Depending on your condition, you may want to try other options first that do not involve surgery or to “watch and wait” to see if your condition improves on its own. Some women wait to have a hysterectomy until after they have completed their families. If you choose another option besides hysterectomy, keep in mind that you may need additional treatment later.
What structures are removed during a hysterectomy?
There are different types of hysterectomy:
What other organs besides the cervix and uterus may be removed during a hysterectomy?
If needed, the ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed if they are abnormal (for example, they are affected by endometriosis). This procedure is called
Your surgeon may not know whether the ovaries and fallopian tubes will be removed until the time of surgery. Women at risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer can choose to have both ovaries removed even if these organs are healthy in order to reduce their risk of cancer. This is called a risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
Removing the fallopian tubes (but not the ovaries) at the time of hysterectomy also may be an option for women who do not have cancer. This procedure is called opportunistic salpingectomy. It may help prevent ovarian cancer. Talk with your surgeon about the possible benefits of removing your fallopian tubes at the time of your surgery.
What will happen if my ovaries are removed before I have gone through menopause?
You may experience immediate menopause signs and symptoms. You also may be at increased risk of osteoporosis. Hormone therapy can be given to relieve signs and symptoms of menopause and may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Hormone therapy can be started immediately after surgery. Other medications can be given to prevent osteoporosis if you are at high risk.
What are the different ways hysterectomy can be performed?
A hysterectomy can be done in different ways: through the vagina, through the abdomen, or with laparoscopy. The choice will depend on why you are having the surgery and other factors. Sometimes, the decision is made after the surgery begins and the surgeon is able to see whether there are other problems.
How is a vaginal hysterectomy done?
In a vaginal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed through the vagina. There is no abdominal incision. Not all women are able to have a vaginal hysterectomy. For example, women who have adhesions from previous surgery or who have a very large uterus may not be able to have this type of surgery.
What are the benefits of vaginal hysterectomy?
Vaginal hysterectomy generally causes fewer complications than abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. Healing time may be shorter than with abdominal surgery, with a faster return to normal activities. It is recommended as the first choice for hysterectomy when possible.
How is laparoscopic hysterectomy done?
Laparoscopic surgery requires only a few small incisions in your abdomen. A laparoscope inserted through one of these incisions allows the surgeon to see the pelvic organs. Other surgical instruments are used to perform the surgery through other small incisions. Your uterus can be removed in small pieces through the incisions, through a larger incision made in your abdomen, or through your vagina (which is called a laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy).
A robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy is performed with the help of a robotic machine controlled by the surgeon. In general, it has not been shown that robot-assisted laparoscopy results in a better outcome than laparoscopy performed without robotic assistance.
What are the benefits and risks of laparoscopic hysterectomy?
Compared with abdominal hysterectomy, laparoscopic surgery results in less pain, has a lower risk of infection, and requires a shorter hospital stay. You may be able to return to your normal activities sooner. There also are risks with laparoscopic surgery. It can take longer to perform compared with abdominal or vaginal surgery, especially if it is performed with a robot. Also, there is an increased risk of injury to the urinary tract and other organs with this type of surgery.
How is an abdominal hysterectomy done?
In an abdominal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed through an incision in your lower abdomen. The opening in your abdomen gives the surgeon a clear view of your pelvic organs.
What are the benefits and risks of abdominal hysterectomy?
Abdominal hysterectomy can be performed even if there are adhesions or if the uterus is very large. But abdominal hysterectomy is associated with greater risk of complications, such as wound infection, bleeding, blood clots, and nerve and tissue damage, than vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. It generally requires a longer hospital stay and a longer recovery time than vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy.
Is hysterectomy safe?
Hysterectomy is one of the safest surgical procedures. But as with any surgery, problems can occur, including
Some problems related to the surgery may not show up until a few days, weeks, or even years after surgery. These problems include formation of a blood clot in the wound or bowel blockage. Complications are more common after an abdominal hysterectomy.
Are all women at the same risk of complications?
No, some women are at greater risk of complications than others. For example, if you have an underlying medical condition, you may be at greater risk of problems related to anesthesia.
Will I have to stay in the hospital after having a hysterectomy?
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to a few days after surgery. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of hysterectomy you had and how it was done. You will be urged to walk around as soon as possible after your surgery. Walking will help prevent blood clots in your legs. You also may receive medicine or other care to help prevent blood clots.
What should I expect after having a hysterectomy?
You can expect to have some pain for the first few days after the surgery. You will be given medication to relieve pain. You will have bleeding and discharge from your vagina for several weeks. Sanitary pads can be used after the surgery. Constipation is common after most hysterectomies. Some women have temporary problems with emptying the bladder after a hysterectomy. Other effects may be emotional. It is not uncommon to have an emotional response to hysterectomy. You may feel sad that you are no longer able to bear children, or you may be relieved that your former symptoms are gone.
What are some important things I should know about recovery?
Follow your surgeon’s instructions. Be sure to get plenty of rest, but you also need to move around as often as you can. Take short walks and gradually increase the distance you walk every day. You should not lift heavy objects until your surgeon says you can. Do not put anything in your vagina during the first 6 weeks. That includes douching, having sex, and using tampons.
After you recover, you should continue to see your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) for routine gynecologic exams and general health care. Depending on the reason for your hysterectomy, you still may need pelvic exams and cervical cancer screening.
Contact Cheyenne Women’s Clinic to speak to your physician about your options for a hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy is the surgery to remove a woman’s uterus. You may need a hysterectomy for a variety of reasons, including:
Types of Hysterectomy
At Cheyenne Women’s Clinic, our board-certified physicians perform all types of hysterectomy. The method your provider chooses for you depends on your specific situation:
In this procedure, which is major surgery that takes place in a hospital, your doctor makes an incision in your abdomen and removes the uterus from there. This approach is usually reserved for a very large uterus or when your doctor suspects you may have cancer.
Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy
In this procedure, which takes place at a hospital or surgery center, your doctor operates using a laparoscope, which is an operating microscope used to view inside your abdomen through very small abdominal incisions. Your doctor performs the surgery by looking through the laparoscope and removing your uterus vaginally. Advantages of this type of hysterectomy include:
Most of the hysterectomies done by Cheyenne Women’s Clinic are performed vaginally. This is the least invasive way to perform surgery with the quickest recovery time of any hysterectomy. You can often return to work and normal activities within only a few weeks. It is performed in either the hospital or a surgical center and often requires only a 24-hour stay. With a vaginal hysterectomy, your doctor doesn’t need to make any external incisions and performs the entire surgery through an incision made vaginally. Through a vaginal hysterectomy, your doctor can remove both the uterus and the tubes and ovaries as necessary.
If you are a candidate for a hysterectomy, know that at Cheyenne Women’s Clinic, we want to make sure you are fully informed about all your options. If you’re not, make an appointment by calling 307.637.7700 to talk to one of our providers today.