A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove either a portion of the uterus or the entire uterus. Sometimes the ovaries are also removed in a procedure called an oophorectomy.
A hysterectomy can be performed for different reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:
Hysterectomies can be performed using different techniques depending on the patient's health and anatomy and the reason for the procedure. Some hysterectomies can be performed through the vagina with no need for external incisions. Other hysterectomies can be performed using very small external incisions. These minimally-invasive hysterectomies are associated with faster recovery and less bleeding and tissue damage than traditional hysterectomies that use larger incisions. When a hysterectomy is performed due to cancer, a larger incision usually will be needed to ensure all the cancerous tissue has been removed.
Hysterectomies typically require a one or two-night hospital stay to enable initial healing to occur before being discharged home. Discomfort can be managed with pain relievers, and sanitary napkins (pads) can be used to control bleeding that can occur for about a week to 10 days after the procedure. Tampons may not be worn during this time. Patients will need to avoid sexual intercourse and strenuous activities for about six weeks to enable the area to heal more fully and to avoid straining the area. In some cases, hormone replacement therapy may be advised to maintain normal levels of hormones.
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