A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus. Also known as the womb, the uterus is where a baby develops when a woman is pregnant. A hysterectomy may be necessary for a number of reasons, including:
- Uterine fibroids
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- A prolapsed uterus or other pelvic support problems
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Gynecologic cancer
Hysterectomy Types and Surgical Techniques
Doctors perform different types of hysterectomies based on the patient’s medical needs:
- Supracervical or subtotal hysterectomy. The surgeon removes the upper part of the uterus, leaving the cervix in place.
- Total hysterectomy. The entire uterus and the cervix are removed.
- Radical hysterectomy. The surgeon removes the entire uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix and the top part of the vagina. This procedure is generally only required if cancer is present.
There are two primary approaches to hysterectomy: traditional, or open, surgery and surgery performed using a minimally invasive procedure (MIP). In open surgery, a 5-7 inch incision is made on the patient’s belly and the uterus and potentially other parts of the reproductive system are removed through the incision.
MIPs include laparoscopic hysterectomy and vaginal hysterectomy. In a laparoscopic procedure, a small light, camera, and surgical tools are inserted through small incisions on the belly, and the surgeon performs a hysterectomy while watching the movements on a monitor. In a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon makes a cut in the vagina and removes the uterus through the incision.
Your doctor will give you medication to manage the pain you can expect to have for a few days following a hysterectomy. You will have bleeding and discharge from your vagina for several weeks. Constipation is common following a hysterectomy, and some women have short-term difficulty with emptying their bladder.
You will need to plan on taking time off from work, school or home responsibilities following your surgery. Most women are told to abstain from sex and to avoid lifting heavy objects for six weeks after a hysterectomy. Your doctor can help you determine how much time you will need for recovery based on your planned procedure.
It is important to note that every woman’s recovery from a hysterectomy will be different. Factors such as age, general health, the medical condition prompting the surgery, the type of procedure, the surgical approach and others will affect how long recovery takes and how much pain and discomfort is experienced during recovery.
Why Choose Baptist Health for Women’s Health Services?
The Baptist Health team is unified in providing compassionate care. When you choose one of our Baptist Health locations for women’s health services, you will benefit from our: expertise, focus on women’s health, enhanced facilities, and expansive preventive services.