At least one in four American women will eventually have a hysterectomy, making it the second most common surgery after cesarean section.
There are several ways of doing a hysterectomy. In an abdominal hysterectomy, an incision is made in the lower abdomen. In a vaginal hysterectomy, the incision is made in the upper end of the vagina, and the uterus is removed through the vagina. The laparoscope—a thin telescope inserted through the belly button—can also be used. This enables a larger percentage of hysterectomies to be done using the vaginal approach.
For a few days following a hysterectomy, a woman may experience vaginal bleeding, some discharge, pain and tenderness. She may spend anywhere from a week to more than a month recovering at home before returning to normal activity.
When a premenopausal woman has her ovaries removed along with her uterus, she will go into menopause right after the surgery. She may begin to have unpleasant side effects, such as hot flashes and night sweats, due to the halt in estrogen production.