Why Get a Hysterectomy and What are the Risks?

Sep 4 • 2015
Why Get a Hysterectomy and What are the Risks?

Getting a hysterectomy can be a big decision for any woman. This operation removes all or part of your uterus, depending on what your doctor thinks is necessary. A supracervial or subtotal hysterectomy removes just the upper part of the uterus and keeps the cervix in place. A total hysterectomy removes the uterus and cervix entirely. Lastly, a radical hysterectomy removes the entire uterus, the tissue on the sides of the uterus, all of the cervix, and the top part of the vagina. During any of these three surgeries, the ovaries can also be removed.

Why Get a Hysterectomy?
There are a variety of reasons why a woman might choose to have her uterus removed. One of the most common reasons is the presence of cancer in the uterus, ovaries, or cervix. For noncancerous situations, a doctor will likely recommend other options to try before considering this operation. This includes issues like:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Thickening of the uterus
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Pain, bleeding, and other issues caused by uterine fibroids
  • Sliding of the uterus into the vaginal canal
  • Endometriosis
  • Polyps

What are the Risks Associated with Having a Hysterectomy?
In general, a hysterectomy is a very low-risk surgery. The majority of women who have one do not have any complications, but there are some issues that can occur, such as:

  • Chronic pain
  • Wound infections
  • Formation of an abnormal connection between the bladder and vagina
  • Vaginal prolapse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hemorrhage
  • Blood clots

While these issues are uncommon, it is important to speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have.

How Will a Hysterectomy Impact My Life?
Depending on the type of hysterectomy you undergo, the changes in your life will vary. Women who have their ovaries removed as well as the uterus will begin menopause, while those who don’t may still start menopause earlier than normal. For six weeks after the surgery, it is crucial to avoid lifting any heavy objects or engaging in intercourse. Aside from these changes, the majority of women note that their bodies returned to normal and the issues they were experiencing prior to surgery have disappeared.

If you are considering a hysterectomy, speak with your doctor to discuss what issues are leading to this decision and what other alternatives to consider.