​​Everything You Need to Know About Hysterectomies

Jan 10, 2024 | Blog

Though it may sound scary if you need one, a hysterectomy is the second-most common procedure performed in the U.S. for women, trailing only behind C-sections. There are many reasons why your doctor might recommend this procedure, and having some background knowledge about hysterectomies can help you formulate questions to ask during a consultation in order to reach an informed decision for your health and future.

What Is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of your uterus. Depending on your reason for receiving the procedure, it may also involve the removal of your fallopian tubes and one or both ovaries.

What Can a Hysterectomy Treat?

The procedure is used to treat a wide range of conditions that affect the female reproductive system. Uterine fibroids — which can cause issues like heavy periods — are the most common reason you may need one performed. Other conditions that may lead your doctor to suggest a hysterectomy include endometriosis, pelvic support issues such as uterine prolapse, chronic pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding, and gynecologic cancer

While a hysterectomy can be an effective treatment for these conditions, it’s also considered a major surgery that can have life-altering side effects, which is why, for many issues, noninvasive treatments are often explored first. 

How Are They Performed?

Traditionally, abdominal hysterectomies involve uterine removal through incisions made in the lower abdomen. Now, hysterectomies may be more commonly performed via laparoscopic surgery, which requires a series of much smaller incisions made just above your pubic hair line. Your surgeon will either then remove your uterus in small pieces using hand-held instruments, or with a robotic machine that extracts the entire organ. A laparoscopic hysterectomy tends to carry fewer risks of side effects and results in less pain and a shorter hospital stay

What to Expect After a Hysterectomy

Because a hysterectomy involves the total removal of your uterus, having this procedure means you’re no longer able to become pregnant. Women who are considering this procedure should therefore be certain that carrying a pregnancy isn’t a plan for their future. Without a uterus, you’ll also no longer get your period, so you may experience menopause-like symptoms including hot flashes, due to blocked blood flow to your ovaries.

One noteworthy downside: If both ovaries need to be removed during your hysterectomy, regardless of your age, you’ll also enter menopause. This abrupt hormone drop can result in symptoms that may be stronger than those you might experience during a more gradual, natural menopause. Be prepared to experience mood changes, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and difficulty sleeping, and talk to your gynecologist ahead of time about treatment options that can help manage these side effects, such as hormone replacement therapy.

The need for recovery and hospital stay following your hysterectomy will depend on the type of procedure you receive. For laparoscopic procedures, patients are often able to go home the next day. But you may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days if you’ve received an abdominal hysterectomy, to allow for deeper healing. 

After the procedure, most patients receive a catheter for urine removal, but that is typically removed prior to discharge from the hospital. Before sending you home, your provider will also give you detailed instructions for your recovery, including measures to reduce the risk of infection or complications. In general, a full recovery will take two to four weeks for a laparoscopic hysterectomy, or four to six weeks for an abdominal procedure.

Schedule a Hysterectomy Appointment with Rosa Gynecology Today

Getting a hysterectomy can be a big decision, but it’s one that our caring, expert team is prepared to talk through with you. No matter your reason for considering it, we can help you weigh the pros and cons and explore options so you can determine the treatment that’s best for you. Start by requesting an appointment through our online scheduler or by calling 770-487-9604.

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