What is a Hysterectomy?

X Ray of Hysterectomy - Covington, LA - Jill Gibson, MBThere are a number of reasons for a woman to consider a hysterectomy. Covington, LA women will be well served with this information provided by gynecologist Jill Gibson, MD. It’s a big decision to undergo this procedure, so it’s important to be informed of what it entails, and of all the possible side effects.

Hysterectomy Procedure

Broadly speaking, this procedure is the surgical removal of the uterus, thereby ending menstruation and the ability to become pregnant. There are several variants of this surgery:

  • Supracervical hysterectomy removes the upper part of the uterus.
  • Total hysterectomy removes the entire uterus and cervix.
  • Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries. This will initiate menopause.
  • Radical hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy removes the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, the upper portion of the vagina and some surrounding tissue. This procedure is performed to treat cervical and uterine cancer.

The type of procedure prescribed will depend on the reasons for treatment. Reasons for getting the surgery include abnormal vaginal bleeding, severe endometriosis, prolapse of the uterus into the upper vagina, uterus-related pelvic pain, benign tumors that cause pain and severe bleeding, and cervical or uterine cancer. It’s important to note that for many of these symptoms, there are a variety of alternative treatment options. Because a hysterectomy is a highly invasive procedure, it will only be recommended in cases where other treatments are deemed to be less effective. It’s always best to talk to your doctor about your options.

What to expect BEFORE a hysterectomy procedure?

Before the procedure begins, patients will undergo a blood and urine test, an enema or bowel prep, and an IV to provide medication and fluids. Your doctor will explain everything you need to know about the surgery and will answer any questions you may have.

Right before the surgery, either general anesthesia will be administered, leaving you asleep during the procedure, or a local anesthetic will numb the region while you are still awake. Once this has been administered, there are three possible methods. The one used depends on the reasons for your surgery.

  • The uterus may be removed through an incision in the abdomen or vagina.
  • A laparoscope may be inserted through the vagina to view and remove the uterus through the vagina.
  • In some cases, a laparoscope will be used to remove the uterus through a number of tiny incisions in the abdomen.

Surgery can take between one and three hours to complete.

What to expect AFTER a hysterectomy?

Once the procedure is done, though some vaginal discharge may occur for about a month, normal menstruation will end. Discomfort around the incision may last for four to six weeks. Stitches will dissolve on their own, and the area should be washed with soap and water. You should be gentle with this area; a variety of creams and lotions are available to help with itching and minor pain. Generally, you should avoid heavy exertion and exercise for at least four to six weeks after the surgery, though you may engage in light swimming after two weeks. Intercourse, as well, may resume after six weeks. These are all general recommendations. As always, your doctor will have the most personalized advice for you as you recover.

Though menstruation ends after getting the surgery, hormonal changes will not occur unless your ovaries are removed as well, in which case you will go through menopause. Normal hormonal treatment for menopause may be used to help you deal with the symptoms. Though this can be a life-saving operation, women may feel a variety of emotional reactions. These are normal and will pass.

We would like to stress that it is always best to get advice from a gynecologist at any time before or after a hysterectomy. Covington, LA-based gynecologist Jill Gibson, MD is an expert in this kind of procedure and can help you to decide if this is right for you. Women in Mandeville, St. Tammany Parish, Hammond, and Franklinton can call us today for a consultation.