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March 2019

Hysterectomy: What Are My Options?

A hysterectomy is the second most common surgery among U.S. women. But while the surgery is common, learning that you need this major surgery may raise a lot of questions.

Healthcare provider talking with woman patient

Your doctor will likely try other treatment options before recommending a hysterectomy, but it may be necessary to treat conditions including:

  • Cancer of the reproductive organs

  • Fibroids, which are noncancerous tumors

  • Endometriosis, which occurs when the tissue lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus

  • Heavy, prolonged vaginal bleeding

The 3 types of hysterectomy

Since there are several different kinds of hysterectomy, the procedure varies depending on which one your healthcare provider recommends. These include:

  • Partial: The surgeon removes the upper part of the uterus, but leaves the cervix.

  • Total: The surgeon removes the uterus and the cervix.

  • Radical: The surgeon removes the uterus, the cervix, plus the tissue on each side of the cervix, and the upper part of the vagina. This may be needed if cancer is present.

Depending on your condition, the surgeon might also remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

If a woman has a hysterectomy before going through menopause and her ovaries are also removed, she may have menopausal symptoms right away. A woman whose ovaries are not removed may enter menopause at an earlier age than most women, but this will not happen immediately.

How the surgery is done

There are a few different ways to do a hysterectomy. The method you and your doctor decide is best for you may be based on the condition the surgery will treat and other factors, such as your health.

  • Abdominal hysterectomy: The surgeon makes a cut (incision) in the lower belly.

  • Vaginal hysterectomy: The surgeon removes the uterus through a small incision in the vagina.

  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy: The surgeon puts a camera through a tiny incision in the belly and removes the uterus in sections through other small incisions in the belly or vagina.

  • Robotic surgery: The surgeon guides a robotic arm to remove the uterus through small cuts in the lower belly.

When facing the prospect of a hysterectomy, discuss the many options with your healthcare provider so together you can determine the best course of action.


Online Medical Reviewer: Kenneth Mukamal, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/24/2018
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