Approximately, 55,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the UK. About 1 in 5 women will have a hysterectomy at some point.
We spoke to a highly established obstetrician and gynaecologist, Mr Ajay Swaminathan, to discuss everything patients should know about hysterectomies before having the procedure.
What is a hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb) (taken directly from St Marys). It is a major operation.
What are the different kinds of hysterectomies?
The majority of hysterectomies I perform tend to be laparoscopic (keyhole hysterectomy). Small cuts (usually between half a centimetre to one centimetre) are made in the abdomen, and the uterus (womb) is removed through the vagina. The other common ways of performing a hysterectomy include abdominal hysterectomy (which involves a bigger cut either through a bikini line cut or an up and down cut. Vaginal hysterectomy is when the womb is removed through the vagina with no cut or scar on the tummy. A total hysterectomy is when both the body of the uterus and the neck of the uterus (cervix) is removed. A subtotal hysterectomy involved leaving behind the cervix and removing only the body of the uterus.
What are the common reasons for hysterectomy and what are the benefits?
The usual reasons include:
- heavy, painful or abnormal periods (Which have not improved with medical or less invasive treatments.
- Fibroids of the uterus (which can cause painful heavy periods as well as pressure symptoms). endometriosis (Where cells of the womb lining are found in the pelvis) and
- adenomyosis (cells of the womb lining are found in the muscle of the womb)
- Cancer and precancer changes as well as prevention of cancer
- PMS as part of treatment for PMS
How long do I need to stay in hospital after a hysterectomy?
You will be admitted to the hospital on the day of the operation and usually go home after an overnight stay for laparoscopic hysterectomy (key) (enhanced recovery programme). For abdominal hysterectomies, the stay will be longer. You will usually have a catheter draining urine from the bladder during the operation. This is usually removed at the end of the operation or removed after the overnight stay.
How long is the recovery time after hysterectomy?
During the hospital stay, you would be encouraged to stand and have a short walk. While recovering at home, rest and avoid heavy lifting. Gradually increase your activity while recuperating.
What are the complications of a hysterectomy?
The majority of hysterectomies are straight forward. A detailed discussion of the complications is usually done at the time of consenting and listing for the operation. Serious complications include (but not limited to) complications from anaesthesia, bleeding, damage to the bowel, bladder, blood vessels, ureters, infection, blood clots, vaginal problems including the breakdown of stitches, early menopause and ovarian failure.
What is surgical menopause?
If during hysterectomy the ovaries are removed you will go through menopause immediately (This is surgical menopause). Even if the ovaries have been left behind (‘conserved’), menopausal symptoms may be experienced earlier. Most of these symptoms can be eased off with HRT (Hormone replacement therapy).
If you require a hysterectomy or would like more information on the treatments mentioned in this article, we recommend booking an appointment with a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist such as Mr Ajay Swaminathan. Click here to visit his profile today.