Hysterectomy: What It Is, Side Effects & Recovery

Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery for women in their reproductive years, right after cesarean section.


Nearly 68 percent of these surgeries are done to address non-cancerous conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding, uterine fibroids and endometriosis, according to Michigan Medicine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 3 women have a hysterectomy by age 60. What’s more, Black women are twice as likely to have their uterus removed as white women.

Here is what a hysterectomy entails, the different types of hysterectomy, the advantages and disadvantages of each, potential side effects and the recovery process.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy involves the surgical removal of the uterus and, in most cases, the cervix, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“In some cases, the hysterectomy is done with the simultaneous removal of other female reproductive organs,” Dr. Juan Jose Diaz Quinones, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Miami Health System, said in a university release.

The fallopian tubes and ovaries may also be removed, depending on the circumstances. After a hysterectomy, a woman no longer gets a monthly period and pregnancy is not possible.

Types of hysterectomy

There are three types of hysterectomy:

  • “Partial hysterectomy” refers to the removal of the uterus while preserving the ovaries.
  • “Total hysterectomy” involves the removal of both the uterus and cervix.
  • “radical hysterectomy” entails the removal of the uterus, cervix, and a portion of the vagina.

Although there are other treatment options, radical hysterectomy is the most common treatment for early-stage cervical cancer, and cure rates are around 80 percent, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Some patients may be able to have a laparoscopic hysterectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus through small incisions in the abdomen, according to Mount Sinai Health in New York City. This technique utilizes specialized instruments and a laparoscope, resulting in potentially shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times.

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