Hysterectomy: What It is, Why and When It’s Done

6 min read

More Hysterectomies are done in Australia than in any other country in the world.

I had a hysterectomy about five years ago now. For me – it was the BEST thing I’ve ever done. You see, I’ve had heavy, horrible painful periods my whole life. After years and years of IVF, my doctor put me on the Mirena – and for the first two years – it was great. Then for no reason, I started bleeding constantly. Not ‘Period heavy’ bleeding, but a constant stream ‘enough to need a panty liner’ heavy – for nine years solid.

Nothing is unsexier in a relationship than a constant stream of blood being omitted from your birth portal.

I considered having a Uterine Ablation (see below) – but my Gynaecologist found an abnormal growth on my ovary that needed surgical investigation. Thankfully, it was just a fibroid that had wrapped itself around my ovary, squeezing it and causing me pain.

So I had it all whipped out except for my ovaries via a laparoscopic hysterectomy (three tiny scars in the belly – see the piccies below). He even managed to save the ovary with the fibroid! And now I have more energy than ever before, I have no pain, and most importantly – I no longer bleed! I got as fit as I possibly could before the procedure – and was back walking around the block within a week!

More Reading:

hysterectomy scars | Stay at Home
My scars from my Hysterectomy.

What Is a Hysterectomy Exactly?

A hysterectomy is a medical procedure wherein the uterus is removed. There are many reasons why a woman might need to undergo this major procedure. It could be abnormal vagina bleeding, chronic pelvic pain, thickening of the uterus or what is known as adenomyosis, cancer of the womb, cervix or ovaries, prolapse of the uterus (when there is weakening in the ligaments and tissues that support the womb), fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease.

In the past, hysterectomies left scars as large as cesarean scars, but now – they can whip the whole lot out via your belly button and you can be totally back on your feet in as little as a week!

Hysterectomy | Stay At Home Mum

Why Do Some Women Need a Hysterectomy?

There are many and varied reasons for a hysterectomy. And there are other symptoms that women pass off as normal until they realize that they are changing their bodies and are affecting their overall health. For instance, some women bleed heavily when they have their period and the bleeding comes with stomach cramps and severe pains. A hysterectomy will not be recommended by a doctor unless all other measures have already been taken to relieve pains and underlying symptoms.

A hysterectomy may also be recommended for:

  • Treatment of serious conditions such as cancer of the uterus, ovaries, cervix or endometrium
  • Prolapse of the uterus
  • Pelvic pain caused by endometriosis or fibroids
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a bacterial condition that causes severe pelvic pain.
  • Hyperplasia is when the lining of the uterus is too thick and causes heavy, irregular periods.
  • Severe complications from birthing
  • Placenta Accreta happens during pregnancy when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall.
  • Gender Affirming Surgery is when a biologically born female is transitioning to male and wishes to have their uterus or uterus and ovaries removed.

Sometimes the only way to prevent these conditions is to have a total or partial hysterectomy.

Is There an Alternative to a Hysterectomy?

Yes there is if you are dealing with heavy periods. It’s called Uterine Ablation and it works by destroying the tissue in the lining of a uterus with a laser, balloon therapy, radio waves or freezing. Uterine Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure (even though it doesn’t sound like it) and is done for women that have a constant heavy period or periods that last a long time.

A Uterine Ablation usually means that your period will stop completely. But there is a 10% failure rate (meaning either the procedure needs to be done again in a few years, or in a very few cases, causes pain that requires a hysterectomy).

Regular pap smears will still be required with a Uterine Ablation.

For women who have trouble with constant bleeding that aren’t quite ready for a hysterectomy, this is a good option.

endometrial ablation | Stay at Home
A Uterine Ablation Balloon Treatment

What are the different types of hysterectomy and how are they done?

There are three types of hysterectomy. In a total hysterectomy, the entire uterus and cervix are removed. A supracervical or subtotal hysterectomy is the removal of the upper part of the uterus but the cervix is not touched. The kind that is performed among cancer patients is called radical hysterectomy where the whole uterus is removed along with the cervix, the top part of the vagina and tissues on the side of the uterus.

A hysterectomy may be done through different techniques. Doctors strongly advise that you understand what kind of technique will be done to you so you will understand post-operation recovery. Besides, it’s your body you simply have to know.

The laparoscopic hysterectomy is a surgery that’s done from outside the body. The vaginal hysterectomy on the other hand is done through a cut made in the vagina from where the uterus will be made to pass through during the removal. A robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy means a doctor performs the surgery by controlling a robotic system of surgical tools and using a three-dimensional screen as an aid.

Does a Hysterectomy Mean You Go Straight Into Menopause?

It is a common belief that a woman jumps into her menopause after she undergoes a hysterectomy. It’s not always the case. Most hysterectomies leave the ovaries intact unless there is an issue with them. Menopause only occurs when the ovaries are ceasing to function.

But even if ovaries are removed, there are both hormone replacement therapies available or even natural therapies to overcome the symptoms of menopause.

Recovering from a Hysterectomy

I personally recovered from my hysterectomy really quickly. But not every person is the same. I’ve had friends who have struggled with a bit of pain for six months and others who didn’t get out of bed for a month after the surgery.

So don’t have expectations that you will be back on your feet in a week – a hysterectomy is still major surgery!

If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.

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