Everything You Need To Know About A Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a medical procedure with the aim of removing a woman’s uterus.

A hysterectomy is a medical procedure with the aim of removing a woman’s uterus. There are a number of reasons why a woman may end up having this operation but some of the most common reasons are uterine pain, cancer of the uterus/cervix, endometriosis and abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Uterine prolapse is also a common reason for undergoing a hysterectomy. This occurs when the uterus slides down into the vaginal canal rather than in its normal position higher up in the pelvis. This can be a gradual thing that happens and can intensify after multiple childbirths.

There are a number of different ways that a hysterectomy can be performed. For some patients, only a small section of the uterus may need to be removed and in other cases, the uterus, cervix and ovaries are removed entirely. This is considered to be a total hysterectomy. In cases where cancer is present the surgeon may need to remove parts of the vagina also.
The manner of surgery very much depends on the woman’s specific diagnosis or need for the procedure in the first place. For this reason, scars and healing times can vary greatly from patient to patient. More than half of all hysterectomies are performed using open surgery. During this kind of procedure, the surgeon will make a 6-7 inch incision across the abdomen. A hospital stay of 2-3 days is expected after this kind of surgery.

In other cases, the hysterectomy can be performed through the vagina which leaves no visible scar but requires an incision within the vagina. Alternatively, the procedure can be performed through laparoscopy. This involves a small incision beside the belly button and a tube being fed through the small incision site.
The tube contains a light and a camera to give the surgeon a clear picture of the operation site. It also allows for small tools to be inserted while the surgeon uses a video screen to direct themselves and perform the surgery using minimal incisions.
This kind of hysterectomy has a faster recovery and a smaller chance of infection following the operation. Women generally feel well and return to normal activity within 3-4 weeks compared to an open surgery which may involve several further weeks of recovery.

When deciding upon which route is best to carry out the hysterectomy the surgeon will consider any history of previous surgeries, a person’s weight and their general bill of health.

As with all medical procedures requiring anaesthetic, there are risks associated. Urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse are some of the possible complications, however, they are rare. Blood clots, infections and injury to surrounding organs are also possible risks as with any kind of surgery.
Women are advised to rest and avoid any heavy lifting for several weeks after the surgery but the vast majority return to work and normal life feeling as though the procedure was a great success.

After a full hysterectomy where the ovaries were also removed a woman will immediately enter menopause regardless of her age. This means that she will no longer be able to conceive a baby as her reproductive organs will have been removed completely. For younger women, this can be a difficult thing to accept.

Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.

 

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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