A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes your uterus. After surgery, you can’t become pregnant and no longer menstruate. Reasons for this surgery include abnormal bleeding, uterine prolapse, fibroids and cancer. Recovery usually takes four to six weeks, depending on the type of surgery you have.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, and most likely, the cervix. Depending on the reason for the surgery, a hysterectomy may involve removing surrounding organs and tissues, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The uterus is where a fetus grows during pregnancy. Its lining is the blood you shed during your menstrual period. You won’t be able to get pregnant and you won’t get your period after a hysterectomy.
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Your healthcare provider will discuss which type of hysterectomy is needed depending on your condition. This will determine if your fallopian tubes and/or ovaries need to be removed.
Healthcare providers perform hysterectomies to treat:
About 300,000 women get hysterectomies in the United States each year. It’s the second most common surgery performed among women (after Cesarean section).
A healthcare provider will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. Talk to them about any concerns you have. You may be asked to provide blood and urine samples.
Your healthcare provider will determine the type of hysterectomy you need and the best surgical method to perform that procedure. You’ll change into a hospital gown and get hooked up to monitors that track your heart rate. An intravenous (IV) line is placed in a vein in your arm to deliver medications and fluids.
An anesthesiologist will give you either:
There are several different surgical approaches your healthcare provider may use to perform a hysterectomy:
The procedure lasts one to three hours. The time can vary depending on the size of your uterus and the need to take down scarring from previous surgeries, as well as if other tissue, such as endometrial tissue, and other organs are being removed with your uterus (like your fallopian tubes or ovaries).
Some of the most common side effects of a hysterectomy are vaginal drainage (which may occur up to six weeks after surgery) and irritation at the incision sites.
If your ovaries were removed at the time of your hysterectomy, you may experience menopausal symptoms such as:
Your doctor will discuss treatment options to avoid the side effects of menopause mentioned above.
The amount of time you spend in the hospital following a hysterectomy varies depending on what kind of surgery you had. Your healthcare provider will want to monitor you and ensure there aren’t any signs of complications like blood clots or bleeding. You’ll walk around as soon as possible after your surgery to prevent blood clots in your legs.
If you had an abdominal hysterectomy, you might stay in the hospital for a few days. Vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies are less invasive and typically don’t require an overnight stay in the hospital.
Your healthcare provider will go over recovery instructions, including restrictions to your day-to-day activities. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your recovery or the procedure.
Having a hysterectomy can help you live a more enjoyable life, especially if you have constant pelvic pain or heavy and irregular bleeding. If you’re at a higher risk of uterine cancer, a hysterectomy can lower this risk and potentially be life-saving.
A hysterectomy is a major surgery with a long recovery. It comes with risks and side effects and is permanent. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you can go into menopause or experience symptoms of menopause. You also won’t be able to become pregnant after the procedure.
As with any surgery, there’s a slight chance that problems may occur, including:
Most people recover from a hysterectomy in about four to six weeks. Your recovery depends on the type of hysterectomy you had and how the surgery was performed. Recovering from a vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomy takes less time than recovering from an abdominal hysterectomy.
You should increase your activity gradually and pay attention to how you feel. If anything causes you pain, you should stop. Talk to your healthcare provider about specific instructions for recovering at home, including what medications to take.
Vaginal and laparoscopic recovery take about two to four weeks. It may take up to six weeks to recover from abdominal hysterectomy. Talk to your healthcare provider before going home to make sure you know how to best care for yourself.
After a hysterectomy, your periods will stop. Occasionally, you may feel bloated and have symptoms similar to when you were menstruating. It’s normal to have light vaginal bleeding or a dark brown discharge for about four to six weeks after surgery.
You may feel discomfort at the incision site for about four weeks, and any redness, bruising or swelling will disappear in four to six weeks. Feeling burning or itching around the incision is normal. You may also experience a numb feeling around the incision and down your leg. This is normal and, if present, usually lasts about two months. It’s normal to have scarring, both internally and externally. Laparoscopic surgeries will cause smaller, less visible scars as opposed to abdominal hysterectomies.
If your ovaries remain, you shouldn’t experience hormone-related effects. If your ovaries were removed with your uterus before menopause, you may experience the symptoms that often occur with menopause, such as hot flashes. Your healthcare provider may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms.
People who undergo a subtotal hysterectomy may continue to have a light period for a year after the procedure. This happens because small amounts of the endometrial lining can remain in your cervix, causing light periods.
Emotional reactions to a hysterectomy vary and can depend on how well you were prepared for the surgery, the reason for having it and whether the problem has been treated.
Some may feel a sense of loss, but these emotional reactions are usually temporary. Others may find that a hysterectomy improves their health and well-being and may even be a life-saving operation. Please discuss your emotional concerns with your healthcare provider.
It’s very normal to experience bloating or feeling gassy after a hysterectomy. It can take several weeks for the puffiness and swelling in your belly to go down. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce your discomfort. Performing certain exercises, applying a warm compress or changing up your diet may help you.
This depends on whether your ovaries were removed. If your ovaries remain after a hysterectomy, you won’t enter menopause right away. If both of your ovaries were removed during the hysterectomy, you might enter menopause immediately.
Generally, no, and especially if you’re deemed to be at low risk for developing cervical cancer. You should continue to have a Pap test if you had a hysterectomy because of cancer.
Call your healthcare provider if you have:
Your sexual function isn’t usually affected by a hysterectomy. If your ovaries were removed with your uterus, this could start symptoms of menopause. Symptoms such as low sex drive and vaginal dryness may occur. Using a water-based lubricant can help with dryness.
Yes, you can still have an orgasm and ejaculate after a hysterectomy. This is because the external organs of your vagina and the pelvic nerves that supply the lower genital tract are still intact after a simple hysterectomy.
No, studies show that sexual pleasure doesn’t change after a hysterectomy. If your ovaries are removed and you have vaginal dryness, using a lubricant can help. In rare cases and when the hysterectomy is performed for cancer or prolapse, the shape of your vaginal canal changes after a hysterectomy. This could lead to pain, especially during penetration.
After you have a hysterectomy, your other organs move to fill the space. Your small and large intestines mainly fill the space once occupied by your uterus.
Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your symptoms or condition. When a hysterectomy isn't medically necessary, some alternatives to try could be:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A hysterectomy can offer relief from many conditions of the uterus, like irregular bleeding or painful periods. Remember, talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider about your symptoms so they can recommend the best treatment. If you get a hysterectomy, make sure you understand the procedure and how to safely recover from surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/16/2021.
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