A hysterectomy is an invasive procedure to remove the uterus from the body. The womb, also known as the uterus, is a pear-shaped female reproductive organ responsible for many bodily functions such as menstruation, fertility, and pregnancy. It is the space where a baby's growth and nourishment take place. 

The removal of this vital organ from the body depends on the reason for the surgery. Hysterectomy can be suggested by doctors to treat several chronic painful ailments of the uterus, some injuries, for types of cancer, or certain infections. In most cases, during the procedure, the entire uterus is removed. During a hysterectomy, the doctor may also remove the ovaries, the organs that produce estrogen, and the fallopian tubes (structures that transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus). At times, this surgery is also done for a problem such as adenomyosis or thickening of the uterus. The healthcare provider discusses which type of hysterectomy is needed depending on the related ailment. Women who undergo hysterectomy cannot become pregnant or menstruate. At times they may also experience early menopause

Also Read: Uterine Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment
Hysterectomy procedure

Why Is Hysterectomy Performed?

Here are some of the prime reasons for the hysterectomy to be advised by your health care provider:

  • In case of chronic pelvic pain.
  • When there is uncontrollable vaginal bleeding.
  • If cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries is detected.
  • For unmanageable fibroids that grow in the uterus can be potential tumours.
  • Diagnosis of a possible pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • In case of uterine prolapse, that is when the uterus slips down into the vagina.
  • If there is a disorder in which the inner lining of the uterus protrudes outside of the uterine cavity and causes bleeding. It is also called endometriosis.
  • For adenomyosis- a condition in which the uterus's inner lining grows into the uterus muscles.
  • In the event of post-pregnancy uterine bleeding.

Types Of Hysterectomy 

Partial Hysterectomy

Also known as supracervical hysterectomy, only a portion of the uterus is removed in this procedure, leaving the cervix intact.

Total Hysterectomy

During a total hysterectomy, your doctor removes the entire uterus from the body, including the cervix. 

Radical Hysterectomy

During this procedure, removal of the womb, cervix, and even upper part of the vagina takes place. In most cases, doctors also remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Hysterectomy With Salpingo-Oophorectomy

This surgical technique involves removal of uterus along with one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes. Since both ovaries are removed after this kind of hysterectomy, sometimes doctors advise hormone replacement therapy. This is done to replace the estrogen that your body may stop producing post-surgery or to treat vaginal discomfort that may happen after the surgery.

How Is The Procedure Done?

There are many invasive and minimally-invasive ways to perform a hysterectomy, either through a surgical cut below the belly or using a laparoscope, called laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy. This is conducted wherein a surgical cut in the vagina is made. Another way to perform this procedure is abdominal hysterectomy, when a surgeon removes the uterus through a small incision below the belly button. A less complicated one is vaginal hysterectomy. In this technique, uterus is removed through the vagina, which does not require any external incisions. This process does not leave any visible scarring. 

Risks Of Hysterectomy

Despite being a safe procedure, there are associated risks, just like all major surgeries. These risks are rare, but a second surgery to correct them may be needed if they worsen. Some of these risks include:

  • Bleeding and infection around the incision site.
  • Injury to blood vessels and surrounding tissues
  • Injury to intestines
  • Heavy bleeding or haemorrhage
  • Frequent infections 
  • Damage to the urinary tract
  • Digestive problems
  • Changes in libido levels
  • Signs of depression or anxiety

Post Operative Care

Since it is considered major surgery, it may take several weeks before the patient can return to their normal activities post-hysterectomy. Generally, people are discharged from the hospital on the same day, but if the hysterectomy is part of cancer treatment, it may require a longer stay. During the first few weeks post-surgery, the patient may experience mild abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, or spotting, eventually fading away. The following must be avoided post hysterectomy:

  • Lifting or pushing heavy objects
  • Swimming
  • Using tampons and douching
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Strenuous exercises

Talk to your doctor for more information.