1. What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus. This is a surgical operation most often performed by a gynecologist and may include the total or partial removal of the uterus. In a partial hysterectomy the cervix is left intact, while full hysterectomies involve the uterus body, the cervix will be removed.
2. Who gets Hysterectomies?
Currently, hysterectomies are the most frequently implemented gynecological surgical procedure. According to a 2003 study by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, over 20 million women in the United States have undergone a hysterectomy. This study estimated that nearly 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year, approximating that up to 90 percent of these are for benign reasons. Reasons for undergoing a hysterectomy vary, but may include:
- uterine fibroids causing recurring or persistent bleeding, pain, or other issues
- uterine prolapse (occurring when a uterus shifts from its normal position into the vaginal canal)
- uterus, cervix, or ovarian cancer
- persistent pelvic pain
- abnormal pelvic pain
3. What are the advantages of getting a Hysterectomy?
- Most women undergo hysterectomies in order to ease abnormal bleeding, which can be especially painful and draining if left untreated.
- Hysterectomies prevent future uterine cancer. Women who have a family history of uterine cancer growth often choose to undergo a hysterectomy in order to avoid more serious medical complications in the future.
- Many women report feelings of increased wellbeing and relief from being freed of pregnancy worries. This in turn results in heightened reports of sexual enjoyment.
4. What are the different techniques for Hysterectomies?
There are two ways to approach a hysterectomy: a traditional, open surgery and a minimally invasive procedure (MIP), including laparoscopic hysterectomy. The surgical approach taken depends upon the surgeon and facility’s experience, the reason behind the hysterectomy procedure and the overall health of the woman undergoing surgery.
- Open surgery hysterectomy, or abdominal hysterectomy, is the more common surgical approach. In an abdominal hysterectomy, a one cm incision is made across the belly. The surgeon will remove the uterus through this incision. Because of the length of the cut, abdominal hysterectomies will often leave a small scar.
- MIP hysterectomies are less invasive and can be approached manually (through vaginal hysterectomy) or with a laparoscope. A laparoscope is shaped like a tube and includes a lighted camera to aide in surgical procedures. In a vaginal hysterectomy, the surgeon makes a small incision in the vagina to remove the uterus. A laparoscopic hysterectomy utilizes the technological aide of the laparoscope to make small incision in either the belly or vagina. The operation is controlled outside the body, and the removal of the uterus often leaves no visible scars.