(Surgical Removal of the Uterus [or Womb]; Abdominal Hysterectomy; Vaginal Hysterectomy)
- Supracervical hysterectomy—removal of the uterus only
- Total hysterectomy—removal of the uterus and cervix (the opening of the uterus leading to the vagina)
- Radical hysterectomy—removal of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, upper part of the vagina, and the pelvic lymph nodes
- Salpingo-oophorectomy—removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes (may be combined with any of the above procedures)
Reasons for Procedure
- Treat cancers (such as uterine, endometrial, andovarian cancers)
- Remove uterine fibroids
- Treat conditions (such as chronic pelvic pain, heavy bleeding)
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Injured pelvic organs (bowel and/or bladder)
- Urinary incontinence (problems controlling your urine)
- Loss of ovarian function and early menopause
- Sexual dysfunction
- Heart or lung disease
- Previous pelvic surgery or serious infection
- Use of prescription and nonprescription drugs during the past month
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Blood and urine tests
- X-ray of abdomen and kidneys
- Pelvic ultrasound—a test that uses sound waves to visualize organs in the abdomen
- Dilation and curettage (D&C)—surgical removal of tissue from the lining of the uterus (to check for cancer)
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, such as:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin)
- clopidogrel (Plavix)
- If instructed, take enemas to clean out your intestines.
- Arrange for a ride home and for help at home.
- Eat a light meal the night before the surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Description of the Procedure
|The uterus is removed through the abdomen.|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
|The uterus is removed through the vagina.|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Abdominal hysterectomy: 3-5 days
- Vaginal hysterectomy: 1-2 days
- On the first night, you may be instructed to sit up in bed and to walk a short distance.
- During the next morning, the IV will probably be removed if you are eating and drinking well.
- You may need to wear special stockings or boots to help prevent blood clots.
- To help you urinate, you may have a Foley catheter in your bladder.
- Follow your doctor's instructions.
- Take proper care of the incision site. This will help to prevent an infection.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- During the first two weeks, rest and avoid lifting.
- Slowly increase your activities. Begin with light chores and short walks. Depending on your job, you may be able to return to work.
- Check with your doctor to see when it is safe to drive again.
- To promote healing, eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Ask your doctor if you need to take iron.
Try to avoid
- Eating high-fiber foods
- Drinking plenty of water
- Using stool softeners if needed
- Ask your doctor when you can use tampons. Also ask about Kegel exercises.
- Wait six weeks before resuming sexual activity.
- If you still have a cervix, you will still need regular Pap smears.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, leakage, or any discharge from the incision site
- Incision opens up
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given or that last longer than two days
- Dizziness or fainting
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent blood in the urine
- Swelling, redness, or pain in your leg
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
National Uterine Fibroids Foundation http://www.nuff.org
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
Hysterectomy. New York State, Department of Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/hysterectomy.html. Updated January 2010. Accessed August 25, 2012.
Hysterectomy: frequently asked questions. Women's Health.gov website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov. Updated December 15, 2009. Accessed August 25, 2012.
Women's reproductive health: hysterectomy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/WomensRH/Hysterectomy.htm.Updated May 7, 2009. Accessed August 25, 2012.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/92/2012 -