Hysterectomy (Removal of the Uterus) – What You Need to Know

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A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure whereby the uterus is fully or partly removed. The purpose of a hysterectomy is to alleviate pain and ailment caused by medical conditions or injuries to the uterus. A hysterectomy is a significant surgical intervention that can bear risks and cause side effects. Normally, removal of the uterus is considered a last resort option if other treatments can not rectify the underlying medical condition. For example, if a patient has cancer with a malignant tumour on the uterus, a hysterectomy may be necessary.

What are the main reasons for a Hysterectomy

Below is a list of medical conditions that may require a hysterectomy:

  • Fibroids
  • Uterine Prolapse
  • Heavy and painful periods
  • Endometriosis
  • Cancer

Hysterectomy types

Depending on what organs and tissue needs to be removed, there are three different types of hysterectomy:

Partial Hysterectomy: Partial removal of the uterus, also called supracervical Hysterectomy, is a procedure whereby only the uterus is removed. The cervix and fallopian tubes remain intact and are not removed.

Total Hysterectomy: The uterus as well as the cervix are removed however the fallopian tubes and ovaries remain intact.

Radical Hysterectomy: Refers to the removal of the whole uterus, tissue on the sides of the uterus, the cervix as well as the top part of the vagina.

Why do you need your uterus?

The main purpose of the uterus is to facilitate the growth of an embryo or your developing baby for that matter. The cervix or neck of the uterus is a vital organ that forms part of the lower uterus which joins to the top of the vagina. Sinews and ligaments are attached to the cervix to stabilise the vagina and the entire pelvic floor.

Does a hysterectomy lead to menopause?

No, the removal of your uterus does not trigger menopause. The uterus doesn’t produce any hormones. Menopause marks the end of your fertility and is the term used to describe a woman’s last cyclical menstrual period. While the monthly bleeding stops after a hysterectomy, the ovaries continue to produce ova (egg cell) and hormones for the female cycle.

The usual discomfort in form of tenseness on the breasts and mood swings prior to the menstrual periods remain even after a hysterectomy.

Can I feel the missing uterus?

The uterus does not have somatic nerves which means you do not necessarily feel different if the uterus is missing. However, in some cases, the knowledge of the uterus removal can lead to physical and psychological problems. The impact of these conditions generally depends on how long before the surgery a woman knew about its requirement and the time she had to prepare herself. It also depends on the reason for the removal. Women in their reproductive years who have a desire to have a child are more likely to suffer from physical and psychological disorders. In many cases, a hysterectomy can also be a big relief for women who had suffered from pain and other problems for many years.

How does a hysterectomy affect sexual intercourse?

For most women who had a hysterectomy, sexual feelings remain unchanged after the surgery. The pleasure zones and areas responsible for sexual stimulation causing an orgasm are largely unaffected. However, as discussed above, physical and psychological problems my occur in some cases. These problems can also have an impact on your sexual life.