Hysterectomy | Women's Health | Loyola Medicine


What Is a Hysterectomy?

In a hysterectomy, the uterus is surgically removed to treat abnormal bleeding, endometriosis, painful fibroids, pelvic pain, uterine prolapse or cervical or uterine cancers. Hysterectomies are performed via either the abdomen or vagina.

An abdominal hysterectomy removes your uterus through an incision in your lower abdomen. A vaginal hysterectomy is performed with an incision in the vagina. It can also be done as a laparoscopic or physician-guided robotic surgery, depending on which your surgeon recommends.

There are different kinds of hysterectomies, including:

  • Partial hysterectomy: removes just the uterus, leaving the cervix intact
  • Total hysterectomy: removes the uterus and the cervix
  • Total hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy:  includes the additional removal of one or both of the ovaries or fallopian tubes
  • Radical hysterectomy: removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, the upper portion of the vagina and some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. A radical hysterectomy may be performed to treat cervical or uterine cancer.

What to Expect with a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is performed under general anesthesia and takes around one to three hours. Before surgery begins, your doctor may take blood and urine tests, shave the abdominal or pelvic are and/or administer an enema to cleanse the bowel. You will also be placed on a urinary catheter to drain urine before the surgery begins. During the procedure, your surgeon removes the uterus through an incision in your abdomen or vagina. The method and type of incision (vertical or horizontal) depends on why you need the surgery (cervical cancer, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, etc.).

After the surgery, you will remain in the hospital for one to two days, depending on your condition and individual recovery time. 

Side Effects of a Hysterectomy

It is normal to have some vaginal bleeding and discharge after a hysterectomy for up to several weeks, but you should see your doctor if these symptoms persist. If you had an abdominal hysterectomy, you will have a visible scar at the incision site.

You will need to get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous and sexual activity for a period of time.

A hysterectomy also means an end to your menstrual cycle and your ability to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor to make sure you fully understand the implications of this surgery before proceeding. 

Risks of Hysterectomy

Complications associated with hysterectomy include:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Bowel blockage
  • Earlier onset of menopause
  • Infection
  • Injury to your urinary tract, bladder, rectum or other pelvic structures

Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following after your surgery:

  • Bright red vaginal bleeding
  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating, burning feeling when urinating or frequent urination
  • Increasing amount of pain
  • Increasing redness, swelling or drainage from your incision