The Truth About Hysterectomies

September 15, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Craig Wiener, M.D. contributes to topics such as Obstetrics and Gynecology.

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. Sometimes the procedure is lifesaving, and other times it’s elective.

Why Do Women Need Hysterectomies?

Women may have a hysterectomy for the following reasons:

  • Heavy periods, which can be caused by fibroids, noncancerous growths on the uterus
  • Pelvic pain, which may be caused by endometriosis, unsuccessfully treated pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), adenomyosis or fibroids
  • Prolapse of the uterus, when pelvic floor muscles and ligaments stretch and weaken and no longer provide enough support for the uterus
  • Cancer of the womb, ovaries or cervix

If a woman has tested positive for the BRCA gene, which can lead to an increased risk for ovarian and breast cancer, she may choose a hysterectomy to reduce her cancer risk.

How Is a Hysterectomy Performed?

Depending on the reason for a hysterectomy, doctors may enter through the abdomen or vagina in order to reach the uterus. Sometimes, doctors will also remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries during the procedure.

Today many women choose to have robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomies, in which the surgeon uses a computer to control the surgical instruments. The computer station is in the operating room and the surgeon is able to control the robot’s movements steadily and precisely. A robotic-assisted total laparoscopic hysterectomy is done by making 8-millimeter incisions in the abdomen, and scarring is hardly noticeable.

“This is not like traditional hysterectomies of years ago,” says Craig Wiener, M.D., OB/GYN at Pascack Valley Medical Center. “This option is a minimally invasive surgery with a fast recovery time.”

That recovery time usually means the woman is able to leave the hospital the same day and is back to work or her normal routine within a week.

“In the past, a woman would be in the hospital for a week or recovery could be up to six months,” Dr. Wiener says.

What Risks Are Associated with Hysterectomies?

While hysterectomies are considered to be one of the safest surgeries, there are risks involved. Infection, heavy bleeding, injury to organs, blood clots and trouble urinating are the most common.

Remember, if you are considering undergoing a hysterectomy, ask your doctor about the following questions to ensure you’re comfortable with the expectations.

  • Given my condition, what are the pros and cons of having a hysterectomy?
  • What are my other options?
  • If I don’t have a hysterectomy, what will happen?
  • How can a hysterectomy relieve my symptoms?
  • What kind of hysterectomy should I have?
  • Will I automatically go into menopause?
  • What are the symptoms of menopause?
  • Will I need medications after surgery?
  • What changes to my mood will I have?

It’s important to remember that after a hysterectomy, you won’t have menstrual periods and won’t be able to get pregnant. If having children is something you want to pursue, speak to your doctor about options like surrogacy and adoption.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.