Hysterectomy Q & A
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where a woman’s uterus is removed. Once the uterus is removed, a woman can no longer become pregnant. There are three types of hysterectomy – total hysterectomy, supracervical (or partial) hysterectomy, and radical hysterectomy. A total hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and the cervix. A supracervical hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, leaving the lower part of the cervix intact. A radical hysterectomy is generally performed when cancer is diagnosed or suspected and includes the removal of the uterus, cervix, and the structures and tissues surround the uterus.
When would I need a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures for women in the US. It is used to treat many women’s health conditions including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, abnormal uterine bleeding, chronic pain, or cancer. A hysterectomy itself does not include removal of ovaries; therefore, a woman will still maintain her ovarian function unless she chooses to have them removed. Since a woman can no longer become pregnant after a hysterectomy, the fallopian tubes are now usually removed along with the uterus. Recent studies have shown a decreased risk of ovarian cancer with salpingectomy, the removal of fallopian tubes. The doctors at San Francisco Women’s Healthcare can discuss the hysterectomy options available as well as the best course of treatment for their individual patients.
How long does it take to recover from a hysterectomy?
Patients will remain in the hospital for up to a few days after their hysterectomy. This largely depends on the type of hysterectomy performed and any complications that may arise. Most patients experience some pain for the first few days after surgery. They are generally given medication to mitigate that. There is usually discharge and bleeding from the vagina for several weeks following surgery that can be helped by sanitary pads. Some women have problems with constipation or emptying their bladder after surgery, but medications can alleviate much of this discomfort. In most cases, total recovery can take up to 6 weeks, with many normal activities resuming after 4-7 days.