Removal of the uterus and possibly also the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Although it’s a major procedure, around 30,000 hysterectomies are carried out each year in the UK according to the NHS, mainly in women aged 40–50.
Sometimes also called
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb). Depending on why the surgery is needed it may also involve removing one or both of the fallopian tubes and one or both of the ovaries.
After the operation you won’t be able to have children and you won’t have any more periods. Although it’s a major procedure, around 30,000 hysterectomies are carried out each year in the UK according to the NHS.
Women normally need to have a hysterectomy due to one of the following reasons, and where other treatment options have been unsuccessful:
In some cases, removing the womb may be the only way of stopping the persistent heavy menstrual bleeding and pain that often accompanies these conditions.
If you decide to have the operation, your consultant will advise you on the options available most suitable for you:
If you have private medical insurance or are willing to pay for the operation yourself, we can help. You may be referred to one of our respected surgeons via your own GP. We will aim for you to see one our specialised consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
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Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
You will be put under a general anaesthetic whichever procedure you have, so you’ll be asleep throughout.
During vaginal hysterectomy, your surgeon will make an incision to separate the vagina from the neck of the womb and remove the womb through the opening of the vagina.
The cut is sewn up using dissolvable stitches. This technique leaves no visible scars and usually takes about an hour. Alternatively, your surgeon may remove your womb with the help of a long, thin telescope (called a laparoscope), which enables them to see what is going on inside your belly.
Several small cuts are made in the skin on your abdomen and the laparoscope is inserted. Gas is pumped into the abdomen to inflate the space around your womb before your doctor removes it through the opening of the vagina. Again, dissolvable stitches are used to seal the cuts.
During abdominal hysterectomy, your surgeon will make either a vertical or horizontal incision on your abdomen and remove the womb through this long cut. Stitches or metal clips will be used to close the incision. The operation usually lasts about an hour.
Your surgeon will put in a catheter (tube) to drain urine from your bladder into a bag beside your bed because most women have difficulty passing urine for a few days after a hysterectomy.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.
After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
A physiotherapist may visit you while you’re with us and show you some exercises to do that will help speed up your recovery.
You will feel sore after the operation and you may have some bruising and swelling, so we will give you pain relief medication while you’re with us.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
A hysterectomy is a major operation. The length of your stay in hospital will depend on which type of procedure you had as well as your overall health and fitness.
If you have had a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy, you probably won’t need to stay in for more than four nights. With an abdominal hysterectomy you're likely to be with us for 3-5 days.
It takes six to eight weeks to fully recover after an abdominal hysterectomy but it’s usually less after a vaginal or laparoscopy hysterectomy.
Whichever operation you have, you should take at least four weeks off work and rest as much as possible. You will be able to walk around after a day or two but don’t lift anything heavy or do any sporting activities until you’re fully recovered.
It’s important to do your physiotherapy exercises regularly, as this will help build your abdominal muscles back up. Your physio will probably also recommend you get back to walking and swimming once your wounds have healed.
Don't drive until you're comfortable wearing a seat belt – this could be up to eight weeks after surgery. Some car insurance companies require a certificate from your doctor stating that you are fit to drive.
Avoid sexual activity for at least six weeks and you might experience a temporary loss of interest in sex. This usually returns when you’re fully recovered and many women report that sexual activity and enjoyment actually improves after a hysterectomy.
Your surgeon will advise you when you can resume your normal activities. A full recovery can take up to 12 weeks.
If your ovaries were removed you may get menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy to help with this.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few weeks.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your operation we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support you need. Typically your consultant will want to see you after your treatment to see how you’re doing and a follow up appointment will be made for you.
On rare occasions, complications following surgery can occur. The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you’re having and other factors such as your general health. Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns we’re ready to help.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
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