What is a hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus. It is a very common type of surgery for women in the United States. Removing your uterus means that you can no longer become pregnant.

Why is hysterectomy done?

Hysterectomy is used to treat many women’s health conditions. Common reasons for hysterectomy include abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroids, prolapse, endometriosis, gynecologic cancer, chronic pelvic pain.

What structures are removed during a hysterectomy?

In a total hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed. In a supracervical hysterectomy, only the body of the uterus is removed while the cervix remains in place. You will still need pap smears following a supracervical hysterectomy. You and your surgeon will discuss the possible risks and benefits of removing your fallopian tubes (salpingectomy) or ovaries (oophorectomy).

What are the different ways hysterectomy can be performed?

A hysterectomy can be done in different ways: through the vagina, through the abdomen (like a cesarean), or with laparoscopy. Laparoscopic hysterectomies may be performed with the daVinci surgical robot which is an advanced form of laparoscopy. The choice will depend on why you are having the surgery and other factors. At Northwest Iowa Surgeons, more than 99% of hysterectomies are performed minimally invasively or via the laparoscopic or vaginal route.

What should I expect after having a hysterectomy?

You can expect to have some pain for the first few days after the surgery. You will be given medication to relieve pain. You will have bleeding and discharge from your vagina for several weeks. Sanitary pads can be used after the surgery. Constipation is common after most hysterectomies. Some women have temporary problems with emptying the bladder after a hysterectomy. Other effects may be emotional. It is not uncommon to have an emotional response to hysterectomy. You may feel depressed that you are no longer able to bear children, or you may be relieved that your former symptoms are gone.

What are some important things I should know about recovery?

Follow your health care provider’s instructions. Be sure to get plenty of rest, but you also need to move around as often as you can. Take short walks and gradually increase the distance you walk every day. You should not lift heavy objects until your doctor says you can. Do not put anything in your vagina during the first 6 weeks. That includes douching, having sex, and using tampons.