Why Do Women Have Hysterectomies


Will My Sex Life Change After A Hysterectomy

What to expect with a hysterectomy

It might. If you had a good sex life before your hysterectomy, you should be able to return to it without any problems after recovery. Many women report a better sex life after hysterectomy because of relief from pain or heavy vaginal bleeding.

If your hysterectomy causes you to have symptoms of menopause, you may experience vaginal dryness or a lack of interest in sex. Using a water-based lubricant can help with dryness. Talk to your partner and try to allow more time to get aroused during sex. Talk with your doctor and get more tips in our Menopause and sexuality section.

The Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system is made up of the:

  • womb a pear-shaped organ in the middle of your pelvis where a baby develops the lining of the womb is shed during a period
  • fallopian tubes tubes that connect the womb to the ovaries
  • ovaries small organs by the fallopian tubes that release an egg each month

Page last reviewed: 01 February 2019 Next review due: 01 February 2022

Many Women Grieve The Loss Of Their Womb After A Hysterectomy

Many women who prematurely lose the ability to have long-desired children, feel a great deal of grief at the loss of their womb. But even women who have had children, even if those children are grown, sometimes find themselves grieving over the loss of the womb that carried those children. Here are some sentiments from HysterSisters members:

Im feeling depressed for losing my ability to have children, empty because I have no other children in my life, and guilty for not giving my mom the grandchildren she always wanted.

I am absolutely heartbroken at the thought that I will never have children. How can I get beyond the thought of losing these children of my heart?

Ever since I heard I had to have a hysterectomy, I feel like a part of me is isolated in a world of fear and nobody can reach me. Why is this so hard?

I have a wonderful thirteen-year-old son that I thank God for, but I have wanted another child since he was two. Everybody keeps saying, just be grateful for the one you have. I am, but I still have days where I just sit and think what if?’

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Certain Hysterectomies Can Speed Up Aging And Risks For Age

If youre in your 50s, youve likely already started menopause or will soon. It can also start earlier in your 40s. Menopause brings a lot of changes to the body. For many, it sometimes coincides with having a hysterectomy a procedure to remove the uterus.

There are a lot of rumors about what happens if you get a hysterectomy. I hear that you gain a lot of weight. I hear that you grow facial hair. I hear that your mood changes completely. While a lot of what you hear about hysterectomies is exaggerated, there are some possible side effects to think about if youre planning to have this procedure.

Certain types of hysterectomies can speed up aging and your risk for age-related conditions. But that doesnt always mean that a hysterectomy isnt whats best for your health.

Read on to learn more about hysterectomies, why people get them and how they can impact your bodys aging process.

If My Cervix Was Removed In My Hysterectomy Do I Still Need To Have Pap Tests


If you have had a total hysterectomy in which the cervix was removed along with the uterus, you will not usually require Pap testing. An exception is if your hysterectomy was done because of cervical cancer or its precursors. Ask your health care provider if you need to have periodic Pap tests. It is important for all women who have had a hysterectomy to have regular gynecologic exams as part of their health care.

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What Should I Expect During Recovery

The recovery time varies, depending on the type of procedure and your overall health. You could be in the hospital for up to several days. Overall, abdominal surgery can take from four to six weeks to recover. Vaginal, laparoscopic, or robotic surgery can take from three to four weeks to recover.

Meantime, youll be encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible to minimize the risk of blood clots. You might also be given medication to help lower the clot risk and cope with pain.

After surgery, you might experience:

  • Short-term problems with emptying the bladder
  • Emotional effects. You may feel depressed that you are no longer able to bear children on the other hand, you may be relieved that your former symptoms are gone.

After recovery, youll still need to see your physician for routine gynecologic exams as well as general health care.

Recovering From A Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a major operation. You can be in hospital for up to 5 days after surgery, and it takes about 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover.

Recovery times can also vary depending on the type of hysterectomy.

Rest as much as possible during this time and do not lift anything heavy, such as bags of shopping. You need time for your abdominal muscles and tissues to heal.

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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the U.S., and approximately 20 million women in this country have had a hysterectomy. This makes hysterectomies one of the most common surgeries performed in the U.S. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control , theyre the second most frequently performed surgery, after Cesarean section, for women of reproductive age in the U.S.

If you are one of the many women whose doctor has recommended this common procedure, read on for an overview of hysterectomy basics, including the why, what and how of these procedures.

Whats More Black Women Are Getting These Procedures More Than Any Other Group

New Study Looks At Long-Term Effects Of Hysterectomies

Black women are 2.4 times more likely to have a hysterectomy than white women, according to a study in the Journal of Womens Health. Part of the reason for that is because they are also three times more likely to develop fibroids.

The hard truth is that many Black women grow up expecting to grit their teeth through the pain until theyve had kids and can get a hysterectomy. My mother had a hysterectomy in her 40s because of her fibroids, and she didnt look back, says Carol Cook, 57, of Phoenix. Because of her own fibroids, Cook herself endured pain she describes as fear-inducingI wanted to curl up in a ball and have someone knock me out until it was over. After her son was born, she had a hysterectomy at 35 and is happy with the results.

But Black women are less likely to be offered a minimally invasive hysterectomy , even when you account for risk factors like weight and general health, says Amy Alexander, MD, a gynecologist oncologist in Asheville, North Carolina.

Dr. Alexander began studying racial disparities in care when she was working in Chicago and noticed the patients at Northwestern Universitys hospitalwhich has a larger percentage of white patients than Cook County hospital, a Chicago public hospitalseemed more likely to receive minimally invasive hysterectomies. Doctors work hard, nurses work hard, everybody tries their best, she says. But people end up with different care because there are different systems.

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What Are Alternatives To Hysterectomy

Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your symptoms or condition. When a hysterectomy isn’t medically necessary, some alternatives to try could be:

  • Watching and waiting to see if the condition improves.
  • Taking medications such as birth control pills to manage painful periods or abnormal bleeding.
  • Burning of the lining of the uterus for heavy bleeding.
  • Having procedures to shrink or surgery to remove uterine fibroids.
  • Performing exercises for uterine prolapse that help improve the muscles in your uterus.
  • Using a pessary to “prop up” the uterus if you have a uterine prolapse.
  • Undergoing surgery to treat endometriosis or vaginal bleeding that doesn’t involve removing the entire uterus.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A hysterectomy can offer relief from many conditions of the uterus like irregular bleeding or painful periods. Remember, talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider about your symptoms so they can recommend the best treatment. If you get a hysterectomy, make sure you understand the procedure and how to safely recover from surgery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/16/2021.


Removal Of Tubes And Ovaries

Should your ovaries be removed along with your uterus if you have a hysterectomy?

If you have a diagnosis of uterine cancer, the ovaries should be removed because the hormones they secrete may encourage the growth of the cancer. They also may have to be removed in severe endometriosis because they produce the hormones that are responsible for endometriosis.

The fallopian tubes are generally removed when the ovaries are removed because they are attached to the uterus and their sole purpose is to serve as a passageway between the ovaries and the uterus.

In cases other than uterine cancer or endometriosis, there is controversy among doctors about the advantages and disadvantages of removing ovaries and tubes as part of a hysterectomy.

Some doctors believe that healthy ovaries should be removed as part of a hysterectomy in women who are are close to menopause or later, when the ovaries’ function normally fades. It is done as a preventive measure to reduce the risks of developing ovarian cancer. This is because ovarian cancer is very difficult to detect at an early enough stage for it to be curable.

Other doctors disagree because this cancer is rare and because removing the ovaries does not always guarantee women will not develop ovarian cancer. In addition, ovaries produce several hormones which are beneficial to women. They protect against serious common diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis and contribute to sexual pleasure.

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Why Do Women Have Hysterectomy

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Are There Any Risks

Why a woman might consider a hysterectomy

The risks associated with hysterectomy are among the lowest for any major surgery. However, as with any major surgery, problems can occur, including:

  • Blood clot in the veins or lungs
  • Bleeding during or after surgery
  • Injury to the urinary tract or nearby organs
  • Problems related to anesthesia
  • Early menopause

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A Sudden Loss Of Estrogen In The Body Can Lead To Physical Changes

These changes may include:

Some age-related health issues may include:

  • Cognitive impairment, such as dementia and Parkinsonism
  • Low bone mineral density, which can lead to arthritis and osteoporosis
  • Faster loss of tissue, which connects and supports body functions. This typically is related to aging and linked to heart disease, stroke, depression and anxiety

For those who dont have their ovaries removed, rapid aging symptoms are still possible but may happen less suddenly.

Having a hysterectomy without an oophorectomy may increase the likelihood of eventual ovary failure. Ovary failure causes the decrease in estrogen to happen more gradually meaning associated symptoms also may happen more gradually.

All Of This May Leave You Wondering What You Can Do To Make Sure Youre Getting The Best Care And There *are* Ways

If youve been suffering from pain and bleeding, the hysterectomy conversation may be comingbut you can be prepared for it.

When you make the appointment, ask first for a consultation in the doctors office . You can be blunt: Introduce yourself, and say, Im here for an evaluation, and Im not having a hysterectomy, Coffey says. That changes the dynamic immediately.

It may turn out that you do need a hysterectomy, but at least you will know that you and your provider have considered all the options. And keep in mind that some women do say its life-changing, but in a good way. I was overjoyed, says Leslie Mullin, 41, of Houston, who had one at age 36. Among other things, Mullin had, for years, dealt with pain during sex, which disappeared with her hysterectomy.

Dr. Alexander suggests asking what the doctor recommends to patients before resorting to a hysterectomy, as you would with any procedure. If they go ahead and suggest a hysterectomy, ask what the alternatives are, and what the likelihood is that those alternatives would be successful for you. If youre having difficulty getting answers, seek a second opinion. Its your body, after all.

Theres such a long history of hysterectomy being frequently used that the conversation can get to that very quickly, says Dr. Morgan. But we all need to slow down and say, Hey, wait, what about these other options? Lets make sure were doing the right thing for you. As it should be.

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Most Hysterectomies Are Elective

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of hysterectomies may be unnecessary . There are several life-threatening conditions that do make it necessary , but most women have a hysterectomy for issues that have other, less invasive treatments. Fibroids, endometriosis, prolapse, and even some non-invasive cancers can be treated without removing the uterus. To avoid an unnecessary hysterectomy, HysterSisters strongly recommends getting a second opinion before making a final decision.

For such a common surgery, many of these basic facts go either unnoticed or misunderstood. As a patient advocacy group, HysterSisters aims to provide accurate, useful information so that women facing gynecological issues can make informed decisions for their health now and in the future.

True Story: Advocating For Yourself And Digging Into The Options Can Make A Big Difference

Women Who Don’t Have Periods Share Their Stories

True story: Advocating for yourself and digging into the options can make a big difference. Kristen Bennett, 37, of Los Angeles, was diagnosed with fibroids when she was 25. She suffered through the pain for more than a decade until, in the past few years, she began bleeding so badly that she worried shed bleed out. She was so exhausted some days she couldnt make breakfast, and she also developed heart palpitations and acid reflux.

Bennett started going to doctors. One suggested a radiofrequency ablation, which would destroy the fibroids but is not recommended for women who want to preserve their fertility, which Bennett did. Another told her he could try to do a myomectomy but that she should go in prepared to come out with a hysterectomy because he didnt feel confident her uterus was salvageable. The others told her the only option was a hysterectomy .

In the end, Bennett went to six doctors until she found one who was confident he could do a myomectomy, which she had in June. I did a lot of research I knew there were options, she says.

Wary after her experience with the other physicians, Bennett began instructing the sixth doctor about which organs she wanted to keepher ovaries and cervixif he had to do a hysterectomy in the end. He said, I hear what youre saying, but this is not a complicated case. Youre going to be fine. He took out 24 fibroids four were the size of oranges.

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Hysterectomy For Gender Affirmation

Men who are transgender and people who are nonbinary may consider hysterectomy salpingectomy , oophorectomy or a combination of these procedures as part of their gender affirmation surgery plan.

The procedure or procedures you and your health care practitioner decide on may depend on several factors, including your general health and your preferences regarding fertility and the ability to carry a pregnancy or to become a biological parent. Reproductive technology experts can explain the range of options available, including egg freezing and other ways to retain fertility.

How Is A Hysterectomy Performed

Today many women choose to have robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomies, in which the surgeon uses a computer to control the surgical instruments. The computer station is in the operating room and the surgeon is able to control the robot’s movements steadily and precisely. A robotic-assisted total laparoscopic hysterectomy is done by making 8-millimeter incisions in the abdomen, and scarring is hardly noticeable.

This is not like traditional hysterectomies of years ago, says Craig Wiener, M.D., OB/GYN at Pascack Valley Medical Center. This option is a minimally invasive surgery with a fast recovery time.

That recovery time usually means the woman is able to leave the hospital the same day and is back to work or her normal routine within a week.

In the past, a woman would be in the hospital for a week or recovery could be up to six months, Dr. Wiener says.

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Many Women Can Choose To Keep Their Cervix

At HysterSisters.com, statistics show that about 18 percent of women who have a hysterectomy choose to keep their cervix, removing only the upper portion of the uterusknown as a partial or supra-cervical hysterectomy . Because there is no vaginal cuff, retaining the cervix can make for an easier, quicker recovery with less risk of infection. Some believe that the cervix could also help maintain the pelvic floor and sexual satisfaction. On the downside, keeping the cervix could also mean mini periods, the risk of cervical cancer, and further surgery.

Will The Doctor Remove My Ovaries During The Hysterectomy

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Whether your ovaries are removed during the hysterectomy may depend on the reason for your hysterectomy.

Ovaries may be removed during hysterectomy to lower the risk for ovarian cancer. However, women who have not yet gone through menopause also lose the protection of estrogen, which helps protect women from conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

Recent studies suggest that removing only the fallopian tubes but keeping the ovaries may help lower the risk for the most common type of ovarian cancer, which is believed to start in the fallopian tubes.3

The decision to keep or remove your ovaries is one you can make after talking about the risks and benefits with your doctor.

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