What Is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It can be performed through the vagina or an incision in the abdomen.


Partial Hysterectomy

This procedure leaves the cervix and the base of the uterus intact.

Total Hysterectomy

The entire uterus including the cervix is removed.

Total Hysterectomy With Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy

This procedure removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and both ovaries.

Radical Hysterectomy

During this procedure the upper part of the vagina and some lymph nodes are also removed.

Until recently, hysterectomy was the most common surgical procedure in America. An estimated 40 percent of all women had a hysterectomy. Since doctors, patients and insurance companies have begun to question the necessity of so many hysterectomies, alternate therapies have evolved to treat conditions that once warranted the surgery. Alternative treatments may include drug or hormone therapy.


  • large fibroids.
  • severe hemorrhaging not controlled with medication.
  • irreversible damage from an untreated infection. invasive cancer of the cervix or uterus.
  • advanced endometriosis.
  • complications from dangerous childbirth such as a ruptured uterus.
  • a prolapsed uterus (the uterus protrudes into the vagina).


  • birth control.
  • cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix).
  • mildly abnormal patterns of uterine bleeding. premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • abortion.
  • small fibroids.
  • cancer prevention.

A hysterectomy can relieve chronic pain and excessive bleeding and be a life-saving treatment. There are possible complications, including damage to the bladder, bowel adhesions and blood clots. It’s important to be well informed before consenting to a hysterectomy. Always seek a second opinion if one is recommended.

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