Before and After Hysterectomy Surgery

Hysterectomy Surgery In Detail

Before and After Hysterectomy Surgery
Before and After Hysterectomy Surgery. Photo © A.D.A.M.

Hysterectomy surgery is a common procedure done to remove the uterus. In many cases, the cervix may be removed, or it may be combined with an oophorectomy, the surgery to remove the ovaries.

If you are considering having a hysterectomy it is important that you understand both the surgical procedure, the conditions that make a hysterectomy medically necessary, as well as the alternative procedures that may be appropriate for you.

If you do decide that a hysterectomy is for you, it is essential that you understand the risks, rewards, and differences between the types of hysterectomies. This will help ensure that the procedure you choose is right for you.

Before Hysterectomy Surgery

Before you decide to have a hysterectomy, gather all of the information you can about the procedure. In addition to the different types of hysterectomies that are currently available, there are many alternatives to a hysterectomy, including non-surgical treatments and medications. There are also additional surgeries that do not require the removal of the uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.

Questions To Ask Before a Hysterectomy

The following questions are designed to help you explore the type of hysterectomy recommended for you and the alternative procedures that may be appropriate, as well as general questions that will help you make a well-informed decision.

Your surgeon may have information that makes your situation unique and can provide input regarding what is best for you and meets your goals for surgery.

If you do decide to have surgery, be aware that there is information your surgeon needs to know.

In addition, there are many lifestyle changes that you can make when preparing for surgery that can help improve your outcome.

Luckily, a hysterectomy is covered by insurance in the vast majority of cases. If you do not have insurance, you may want to explore the ways to pay for surgery without insurance.

Reasons For a Hysterectomy

There are many reasons women consider a hysterectomy, including life-threatening conditions such as uterine (endometrial) cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer. Other conditions, such as fibroids and endometriosis, are not typically life-threatening but can cause great pain or discomfort.

Heavy bleeding and chronic pain are common reasons for hysterectomy, which are not life-threatening, but can cause significant issues, limiting activity, creating stress and diminishing quality of life.

Hysterectomy Procedures and Approaches

A hysterectomy surgical procedure is an inpatient procedure and is done using general anesthesia.

The most common types of hysterectomy are:

  • Total hysterectomy
  • Subtotal/partial hysterectomy
  • Radical hysterectomy

These procedures may be performed vaginally, abdominally, or laparoscopically, depending on your needs and the surgeon’s preference. Keep in mind that procedures that leave the cervix intact can result in period-like bleeding after surgery in a small percentage of cases.

The Risks of Hysterectomy

Every surgery has risks including the different hysterectomy procedures. It is important that you discuss your personal level of risk with your surgeon. Your risk may be higher or lower than the average patient based on your age, any other medical conditions you have, and many other factors. Only your surgeon can accurately determine if you are a suitable candidate for the procedure.

The risks of hysterectomy include:

Recovering After Hysterectomy Surgery

The recovery from hysterectomy surgery can be a lengthy one,depending on the type of procedure performed. An abdominal hysterectomy requires the most time, with recovery typically lasting 6 to 8 weeks. The recovery after a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy is typically much quicker.

During the recovery phase, there may be restrictions placed on lifting and activities, bathing and swimming, and sex after surgery.

Women who have an oophorectomy, or surgery to remove the ovaries, with their hysterectomy will also experience menopause if they have not already. Some women find that after a week or two of recovery, the menopause symptoms are a bigger problem than the surgery. Hormone replacement therapy may be recommended to help minimize these symptoms.

During the recovery phase, it is important that you take care to prevent infection. For some women, it may also be necessary to perform incision care, which is not difficult, but should be done with care.

After surgery, you may find that you have questions and concerns about what you are experiencing. You should have been provided with written information regarding your recovery. If your concern is not addressed there, you can always call your surgeon's office as well. You may not be able to reach the surgeon directly, but the staff may be able to assist you with your questions.

Remember, if you feel that the situation may be an emergency, such as severe bleeding, difficulty breathing or any other symptoms of an emergency call your surgeon or report to the emergency room.

Life After Hysterectomy

Life after a hysterectomy, for many women, is a great improvement over dealing with the problems that made the surgery necessary. Sex after a hysterectomy, in many cases, is as good or better than it was before surgery. Many women find that no longer worrying about birth control or having a period is a very positive change. Being pain free is certainly an improvement.

Additional Concerns After Hysterectomy Surgery:

Sources:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Elective and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. Washington, DC: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG); January2008 Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis. American Family Physician. Accessed on January 31, 2009 http://www.aafp.org/afp/991015ap/1753.html

Hysterectomies. National Institutes of Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002915.htm

Incidence of symptom reoccurance after hysterectomy for endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility Journal. November 1995. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7589631

Spotting, despite hysterectomy, never considered “normal”. Dr. Peter Gott. The Daily Herald. Accessed January 28, 2009 https://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=184007

Continue Reading