Posts tagged ‘hysterectomy’

Demystifying Hysterectomy Part III: Risks and Benefits

Having a hysterectomy means that you will no longer have the ability to bear children.  It also means you should no longer experience menstrual bleeding (although you may experience other cyclic changes depending upon whether you still have ovaries).  Hysterectomy alone (ie without removal of or damage to the ovaries) does not result in menopause.  However, hormonal changes after hysterectomy are possible. 

Many women are concerned that removal of the uterus will adversely affect their sexual functioning and satisfaction.  There are no studies demonstrating that hysterectomy (with or without removal of the cervix) has a negative effect on patients’ sex lives.  Neither the uterus nor cervix itself contributes to vaginal lubrication or orgasmic response. Most patients’ male partners can not detect the presence or absence of a uterus or cervix and among those who can, few feel that it impacts their experience during intercourse.  Therefore, the best predictor of sexual satisfaction and functioning after hysterectomy is your sexual satisfaction and functioning prior to surgery.

You should discuss these concerns with your gynecologist before considering any kind of surgery to remove all or part of your uterus.

Complications from hysterectomy are uncommon but can be serious.  Although it is impossible to predict or list every possible problem, these infrequent complications may include infection, bleeding, thromboembolic events (blood clots), injury to adjacent organs, bladder or bowel dysfunction, nerve injury, postoperative pain, and anesthesia complications.  You should talk to your doctor about the possible complications of any treatment you consider undergoing.

Hysterectomy is permanent.  Even when performed via minimally invasive techniques, it is still a major surgery. 

Other options for managing certain gynecologic conditions may be appropriate.  These options may include expectant management (watchful waiting), therapy with hormonal or other types of medication, the use of interventional radiology (uterine artery embolization), targeted ultrasound ablation, or other fertility-sparing surgical procedures (myomectomy, ablation of endometrium or endometriosis).

The choice of whether hysterectomy is the right option for you depends on a number of factors.  Talk to your doctor about your condition and all of your options when considering hysterectomy as part of a treatment plan.

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May 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm 3 comments

Demystifying Hysterectomy Part II: “How and why is hysterectomy performed?”

A hysterectomy can be performed in several ways. Minimally invasive surgical techniques include the removal of the uterus (and/or ovaries) through laparoscopy, a surgical technique which involves the insertion of long thin instruments through very small holes in the patient’s abdomen.  Hysterectomy can also be done via the vagina in a procedure called vaginal hysterectomy.  Despite the proven benefits of minimally invasive surgical techniques, the most common method of removing the uterus is still through an open abdominal incision called a laparotomy.  

Hysterectomy is used to treat a number of gynecologic conditions including uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, endometriosis, intractable pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and certain types of cancer.  It may also be required in certain types of emergencies (such as hemorrhage during childbirth) or electively (in persons undergoing gender reassignment).

May 14, 2010 at 3:42 pm 3 comments

Demystifying Hysterectomy Part I: What is a hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy is the most commonly performed gynecological surgical procedure. Over 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year, most often for benign (non-cancerous) conditions. 

But what is hysterectomy?  Literally, the term means “removal of the uterus.”  But there are many types of hysterectomy and several ways in which it can be performed.

First, the types:

A total hysterectomy (often called a complete hysterectomy) means surgical removal of the uterine body or corpus, the dome of the uterus or fundus, and the neck of the uterus or cervix.

The term partial hysterectomy is often used to describe what doctors call a supracervical hysterectomy.  This surgery involves removal of the uterine body and fundus.  It leaves all or a portion of the cervix intact. 

Patients with certain types of cervical cancer may require a procedure called radical hysterectomy, which involves the removal of all parts of the uterus as well as other tissues adjacent to it the pelvis, including the upper vagina. 

The removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, called salpingoophorectomy, is not included in any of the terms describing hysterectomy, even if both procedures are done at the same time.

May 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment


Linda M. Nicoll, MD

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find information about minimally invasive gynecologic surgery as well as some more general information about common gynecologic disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infertility, and pelvic pain.

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