A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure wherein doctors usually remove parts of the female reproductive system, including the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Individuals are unable to become pregnant after the surgery. A hysterectomy is prescribed to manage various untreatable conditions. It can help the individual live a life free of pain, and in some cases, it is life-saving. Read on to learn more about hysterectomy, its types, surgical methods, and side effects.
When do doctors recommend hysterectomy?
Hysterectomies are usually recommended as a treatment for various medical conditions. It is recommended for those who struggle with abnormal or heavy bleeding in the vagina or severe pain during menses that cannot be treated with other methods. Pelvic pain that is also related to the uterus and cannot be treated is also tackled with a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is also used to treat noncancerous tumors, such as leiomyoma and uterine fibroids. Doctors also recommend this surgical procedure for uterine prolapse and cervical or uterine cancer. Individuals who have conditions of the uterus lining, such as hyperplasia and uterine polyps, are also told to undergo a hysterectomy.
The different types of hysterectomies
Hysterectomy is the procedure to remove the uterus from the body. But depending on the case, doctors may choose to remove the whole uterus or only parts of it. Based on what is removed, there are different types of hysterectomies. They are mentioned below:
- Total hysterectomy
A total hysterectomy is when the uterus and cervix are completely removed. Doctors will only leave the ovaries intact.
- Supracervical hysterectomy
A supracervical hysterectomy is when only the upper part of the uterus is removed while the cervix is left as is.
- Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
In this type of hysterectomy, doctors remove the entire uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. If the individual has not undergone menopause, removing the ovaries will cause menopausal symptoms.
- Radical hysterectomy
A radical hysterectomy is when the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed along with the upper part of the vagina and surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. This type of hysterectomy is more common in cases of cancer.
Surgical methods of hysterectomy
There are various surgical methods to carry out a hysterectomy. Healthcare providers determine the surgical procedure to perform the hysterectomy based on the patient’s health conditions and symptoms. Common methods to perform a hysterectomy are mentioned below:
- Vaginal hysterectomy
A vaginal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed from an incision made at the top of the vagina. Doctors then close the incision with dissolvable stitches. This type of hysterectomy is performed in cases of uterine prolapse or noncancerous conditions. There are very few complications involved with this procedure, and it also has a fast recovery time. Most patients are allowed to go home the day of the surgery.
- Laparoscopic hysterectomy
A laparoscope is inserted into the lower abdomen through an incision made on the belly button in this procedure. The laparoscope is a thin tube with a camera at its end. Various tools are also inserted through other incisions on the abdomen. The uterus is then cut and removed in small pieces through the incisions or the vagina. This process does require some recovery time. Patients may be sent home the same day or after a day in the hospital. Laparoscopic hysterectomies are less invasive than abdominal hysterectomies. With the latest technology, doctors can also conduct a laparoscopic hysterectomy with the assistance of a robot.
- Abdominal hysterectomy
An abdominal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed through a six-to-eight inch incision made in the abdomen. Typically, this incision is made from the belly button to the pubic bone. In some cases, doctors may make the incision across the pubic hairline. The incision is closed with the help of stitches or staples. An abdominal hysterectomy is recommended in cases of cancer or if the disease has spread to the surrounding area.
Side effects of a hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure and can have many side effects. Common side effects include vaginal drainage and irritation at the site of surgery. If the ovaries were removed during the procedure, the individual might experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, loss of libido, and vaginal dryness. Doctors prescribe various treatments to tackle these symptoms. Doctors usually prescribe this surgical procedure despite these side effects when the benefits outweigh the side effects. It may help the individual alleviate pain and heavy bleeding and even tackle uterine cancer. The surgery can be a low-risk option and even life-saving in many cases.