Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the womb (uterus). You may be able to opt for a partial hysterectomy, depending on theÂ circumstance.
The cervix and ovaries are not removed when a hysterectomy is performed. This means thatÂ your menstrual periods cease and you become infertile, but you do not experience sudden menopause.
A Subtotal (partial) hysterectomyÂ isÂ performed to control pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding or large fibroid tumors. It is easier for the surgeon to perform than a total hysterectomy. The woman who undergoes subtotal hysterectomy may develop cervical cancer in later life, so she still needs to have an annual Pap smear.
A total or simple hysterectomyÂ removes the uterus and cervix, so sexual response to penetration may be limited in some women. Total (simple) hysterectomy is the most common treatment for cancer of the uterus or cervix. No annual Pap smear is required after a total hysterectomy.
A radical hysterectomyÂ involves removal of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, lymph nodes, and sometimes the top section of the vagina. The latter procedure, which removes all
internal reproductive organs, is called a TAHBSO (total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy). TAHBSO results in sudden menopause with uncomfortable hormonal side-effects, such as hot flashes.
One-third of all hysterectomies are TAHBSO. Radical hysterectomy is performed for advanced reproductive cancer, or if the woman is likely to develop ovarian cancer later.
The decision to undergo a Hysterectomy
For many women the decision to undergo a hysterectomy is as traumatic emotionally as well as it is physical. For conditions such as uterine and ovarian cancer the decision is generally clear cut and obvious, however for â€˜lesserâ€™ conditions many women want to leave no stone unturned in seeing a non-surgical resolution to their problems. Hysterectomy is a serious and irreversible medical procedure.
There are numerous options with the type of surgery involved in a hysterectomy and also the additional surgical â€˜extrasâ€™ that may be performed as part of the procedure. In some situation the ramification of these â€˜extrasâ€™ are not clearly identified to patients prior to undergoing hysterectomy.
Why is hysterectomy performed?
Hysterectomy can be performed to treat the following conditions:
- Large fibroid tumors (30% of all hysterectomies)
- Endometriosis (20% of all hysterectomies)
- Excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) with no definite cause that does not respond to synthetic drug treatment (20% of all hysterectomies)
- Prolapsed (fallen) uterus, endometrial hyperplasia, and pelvic inflammatory disease (20% of all hysterectomies)
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries (10%)
Rarely, hysterectomy is performed when damage from childbirth or catastrophic injury cannot be surgically repaired.
If a femaleâ€™s karyotype contains a Y chromosome, then she is at high risk for developing cancer, a medical specialist may recommend removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) as a preventive treatment.
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The information in this article has been taken with permission from the official Lawley booklet onÂ Understanding Hysterectomy.