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Hysterectomy: Answers to your questions

» How is hysterectomy performed?

» Will the hospital stay be lengthy?

» Will I be restricted in any way?

» Will there be biological changes?

» What about my sex life?

Are all hysterectomies alike?

No. In fact, you should find out what organs your surgeon intends to remove.

If the surgeon plans to perform

  • a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy …
  • he or she will remove the upper two-thirds of the uterus

  • a total hysterectomy …
  • he or she will remove the uterus and cervix

  • a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy …
  • he or she will remove the uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes

  • a radical hysterectomy (usually performed to remove cancer) …
  • he or she will remove the uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, upper part of the vagina and the lymph nodes

Next to cesarean sections, hysterectomies are the most commonly performed surgery in the U.S. If you or someone you love is facing the procedure, the answers on this page will help you understand what to expect.

How is hysterectomy performed?

The surgeon has four choices: a vaginal hysterectomy, an abdominal hysterectomy, laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH), or the newest option, laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSV.

In an abdominal hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus through a vertical or horizontal incision in the abdomen. In a vaginal hysterectomy, this incision is made internally through the vagina and around the cervix. The surgeon then removes the uterus through the vagina.

In LAVH, the surgeon inserts a scope through a small incision below the navel and inserts instruments through one or more additional incisions. The organs are removed through the vagina. LSV is similar to LAVH except that the uterus is separated from the cervix, which remains intact. The uterus is cut into small pieces and removed through a small incision made through the abdomen or navel.

Will the hospital stay be lengthy?

If your uterus is removed through the vagina, your hospital stay will probably last one to two days. If you have an abdominal hysterectomy, your stay may last up to five days.

Will I be restricted in any way?

Yes. You won’t be able to douche, lift, engage in active sports or have sexual intercourse for up to eight weeks after surgery. If you’ve had a radical hysterectomy, the most complex procedure, you will probably be discharged with a catheter.

Will there be biological changes?

If you’re premenopausal, you’ll stop having periods. If the surgeon removes your ovaries, you’ll have a sudden onset of menopause.

What about my sex life?

If your surgery relieves a painful medical condition, your sex life may improve. But in rare instances, scar tissue can shorten or narrow the vagina, making intercourse uncomfortable. You may also experience vaginal dryness. If that happens, water-based lubricants may help. Discuss any problems with your healthcare provider.

© 2014 Dowden Health Media