A hysterectomy is the surgery to remove your uterus, or womb. During the operation, your cervix will normally be removed too. In addition, your ovaries may be taken out at the same time.
The main reasons some women decide to have an abdominal hysterectomy include fibroids, painful or heavy periods and ovarian cysts.
Why do I need a hysterectomy?
The most common reasons for requiring a hysterectomy include:
- Heavy or painful periods
- Fibroids (non-cancerous tumours that grow in or around the womb)
- Endometriosis (where the womb lining grows outside the womb)
What are the advantages of having the operation?
A hysterectomy may cure or improve your symptoms. You will no longer have periods.
Are there any alternatives to the operation?
A hysterectomy is a major operation that is only recommended after simpler options have failed. Alternatives include:
- Hormonal and non-hormonal oral medications to control heavy periods
- An IUD (intra-uterine device, also known as a coil) which can reduce heavy periods
- Endometrial ablation, where the lining of the womb is removed
- Medication to control fibroids, depending on their size and position
- Uterine artery embolisation, which blocks off the arteries which feed fibroids
What does surgery involve?
Lasting around 60 minutes, the surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. A cut will be made by your gynaecologist, typically where your ‘bikini’ line is. Through the cut, they will take out your womb, normally along with your cervix. In order to take out your cervix, a cut will need to be made at the top part of your vagina.
What is the recovery time?
You will normally be able to return home after 4-6 days, but will need to rest for two weeks and maintain the exercise routine taught to you in hospital. Depending on your job, you should be able to go back to work after 6-8 weeks, and after 3 months you should feel like your normal self. Gentle and regular activity can help you to return to normal more quickly, but this should only be carried out under the advice of your consultant.