A hysterectomy can address a variety of serious gynecological health issues, including:
Cancer or precancerous conditions: If you have cancer or precancerous cells of the ovaries, cervix, uterus, or endometrium (the uterine lining), a hysterectomy may be the best option for treatment success. Other options include chemotherapy and radiation.
Endometriosis: This condition occurs when the tissues that line the uterus grow outside of the uterus. It can cause pelvic pain and heavy periods. Although other treatments exist, a hysterectomy is the only way to cure the condition completely.
Uterine fibroids: These noncancerous growths in the wall of the uterus can cause pain and heavy bleeding. Fibroids are the most common reason for hysterectomy surgery.
Uterine prolapse: A hysterectomy is often the best way to resolve uterine prolapse, a condition in which the uterus slips out of place and moves down into the vagina. Uterine prolapse can cause urinary and bowel problems.
A hysterectomy can also be the best option for other conditions that cause chronic pelvic pain or abnormal uterine bleeding.
The structures removed during a hysterectomy depend on the reason the procedure is being done. In a total hysterectomy, the entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed. In a subtotal or partial hysterectomy, the upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is left in place. In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed. A radical hysterectomy is performed when a patient has cancer.
A hysterectomy can be performed one of three ways: Through an incision in the abdomen, through the vaginal canal, or laparoscopically. The way your doctor at North Texas OB/GYN performs the surgery partly depends on the structures that need to be removed (a partial hysterectomy can often be performed laparoscopically, for example).
Because a hysterectomy is a major surgery, recovery can take time. Most women stay in the hospital for a day or two following the procedure; in cases involving cancer, in-hospital recovery time may be even longer. Although you should get plenty of rest and avoid lifting heavy objects for up to six weeks after surgery, your doctor will also recommend that you get up and move around as soon as possible.
You can expect to have some pain for the first few days of recovery, and some amount of vaginal bleeding and discharge for several weeks. Constipation is also normal in the immediate aftermath. If your ovaries are removed, you may experience menopause symptoms.
Because this surgery puts an end to the ability to bear children, it causes many women to have an emotional response, feel a sense of loss, or become depressed.
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