Getting a hysterectomy is never an easy decision. The primary reason why it’s even in consideration at all is when it has the potential to save a woman’s life. Women who have completed childbearing can take this decision with little fear of the future. It’s different when a woman has only just begun childbearing or has not given birth at all. In this article, we will see what a hysterectomy is all about.
What Is A Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus. The uterus lining is that which gets shed during menses. It’s also where babies are nourished for nine months. Any woman that gets a hysterectomy is not going to get pregnant or have menstrual periods again.
There are about three types of hysterectomy. It all depends on the extent of the surgery. A partial hysterectomy only removes some part of the uterus, usually the upper portion. In this case, the cervix should still be intact.
For a total hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix. A more extensive type is the hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy, where the surgeon removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
How is this decision made? It all depends on the extent of insult to the reproductive system. Organs that are not affected do not need to be removed.
Why Are Hysterectomies Performed?
A hysterectomy is one of the options, albeit not the only one when a woman has:
- cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries
- fibroids, which are benign tumors that grow in the uterus
- pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a severe infection of the reproductive organs
- chronic pelvic pain
- uncontrollable vaginal bleeding
- endometriosis, which is a disorder in which the inner lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterine cavity, causing pain and bleeding
- adenomyosis, which is a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus grows into the muscles of the uterus
- uterine prolapse, which occurs when the uterus drops through the cervix and protrudes from the vagina
Most of these conditions also have alternative methods of treatment. A hysterectomy is usually the last resort after other methods have failed.
What Are The Risks Of Surgery?
More often than not, hysterectomies are pretty uneventful. However, there are possible complications. Injury to surrounding structures like the bladder, gut, and blood vessels is possible but rare. Anesthetic complications are another thing to consider.
What Is Recovery Like?
On average, women spend a week or less in the hospital after surgery. At home, full recovery may take up to two months, depending on the type of surgery.
In an abdominal hysterectomy, the uterus is removed through a cut in the abdomen. The recovery time is longer than the vaginal and laparoscopic types, where the uterus is removed through the vagina and the abdomen using a tiny instrument- the laparoscope, respectively.