Understanding Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy has been ranked as the 2nd most popular surgery among women after caesarian delivery. This is according to a report by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Annually, approximately 600,000 women have hysterectomies in America alone. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, you might be wondering what is a hysterectomy? A hysterectomy is a surgery that involves a procedure to remove the uterus of a woman.

Why a Hysterectomy might be required

Various reasons prompt hysterectomies. These include fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, and malignant cancers such as ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancer. Heavy periods or abnormal menstrual bleeding can also be the reason for a hysterectomy. Other benign conditions, such as endometriosis, uterine prolapse, and adenomyosis can also require a hysterectomy. Uterine prolapse is when the uterus slides into the vaginal canal from its normal position. Adenomyosis is a condition where the uterine wall thickens abnormally, and endometriosis is when the tissue lining the uterus grows out of the uterus. Please note, hysterectomies are only performed when alternative treatment options have been tried and have proven unsuccessful.

Types of Hysterectomies

There are three different types of hysterectomies. First is the subtotal hysterectomy. It is also referred to as supracervical of partial hysterectomy. It involves the surgical removal of only the top part of the uterus. Fallopian tubes and ovaries may have to be removed in the surgical procedure as well depending on the situation. The cervix is left in its place. Second is total hysterectomy, which involves removing both ovaries, all of the uterus, the cervix, and fallopian tubes. This is ranked as the most common type. At number 3 is radical hysterectomy. This is more common in women with gynecological cancers. During the procedure, all of the uterus is removed plus the upper part of the vagina, the cervix, and nearby pelvic lymph nodes. Ovaries and fallopian tubes can be removed or not depending on the requirement.

Hysterectomies can also be classified according to the type of route used during surgery. If you are to base types by this, you will have four categories, abdominal, vaginal, laparoscopic, and robotic hysterectomy.  As their names suggest, abdominal and vaginal hysterectomies are made by making small incisions at the lower abdomen and the vagina, respectively. Laparoscopic hysterectomies are done by making small cuts on either the vagina or the lower abdomen and then inserting a laparoscopy, which is a light tube with a camera that is used to see pelvic organs. Robotic hysterectomies make use of robots guided by surgeons during the procedure.

Recovery Time

Different people take different times to heal. Since it is an intense surgery, most people have to stay for two days. Some, of course, take up to a week, while others are still able to go home the same day as the surgery. It takes women who undergo vaginal, laparoscopic, and robotic hysterectomies usually three weeks to a month to get back to their normal day to day activities. Abdominal hysterectomies take up to 6 weeks to heal. Women who have had hysterectomies have reported lower sexual drive and vaginal dryness. The surgery, however, has a 94% survival rate up to the 5-year mark.