Considering a hysterectomy? Get to know your options
For women, hysterectomy is one of the most common surgeries. In fact, the National Women’s Health Network says more than half a million women have this procedure—which surgically removes the uterus—each year.
If you’re one of the many women considering a hysterectomy, take time to learn about your options. With the help of your OB GYN, you can make an informed choice that best fits your current health.
Why might my OB GYN recommend a hysterectomy?
Hysterectomies can help relieve the symptoms of many women’s health concerns. However, before you consider a hysterectomy, you should discuss any potential alternatives with your doctor first. In some cases, your OB GYN may recommend this surgery when other non-surgical options are no longer giving you relief.
According to the National Library of Medicine, common reasons for a hysterectomy include:
- Heavy or abnormal bleeding
- Uterine fibroids
- Uterine prolapse
- Gynecologic cancer
Are there different types of hysterectomy?
There are a few different types of hysterectomy. But the type you have depends on your health. Many women have a total hysterectomy, which removes your uterus and cervix. Other women may only have a partial hysterectomy. This removes the upper part of your uterus but leaves your cervix.
Another less common type is radical hysterectomy. It’s most often used for women who have gynecologic cancer. In addition to the uterus and cervix, this type of hysterectomy removes other tissues near your cervix and the top part of your vagina.
Do some women have their ovaries removed as well?
Some women choose to have their ovaries or fallopian tubes removed at the same time as a hysterectomy. If you’re considering this option, the Office on Women’s Health says it’s important to talk through the benefits and risks with your OB GYN.
If you have a high risk of ovarian cancer, removing the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or both can reduce your risk. However, if your risk is average, doctors may opt to keep the ovaries. This allows your body to continue to produce normal levels of estrogen.
What are the different surgical options?
There are several ways to perform a hysterectomy. Traditional surgery uses an incision on your abdomen—in a similar location as a C-section. But you also may have minimally invasive options. For example, with laparoscopic surgery, your doctor can use tiny cameras and smaller incisions to perform your hysterectomy.
In addition, your OB GYN may offer robotic technology, which allows for more precise movements during your surgery using robotic arms. Some OB GYNs also offer laparoscopic vaginal hysterectomy, where your uterus is removed through a small incision in your vagina. In general, these minimally invasive options have a shorter recovery time.
In the end, many factors affect the timing and type of hysterectomy that’s right for you. So talk to your OB GYN about all of your options. Together, you can decide if you’ll benefit from a hysterectomy and take steps to have a smooth procedure and recovery.