A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman's uterus. The fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed at the same time.
Hysterectomies are performed for a variety of reasons including cancer of the uterus; endometriosis; excessive bleeding which does not respond to hormone therapy; severe, persistent pelvic pain; prolapsed uterus; or relaxation of the uterus.
The uterus may be removed through an incision in the abdomen. More recently, laparoscopy has allowed surgeons to remove the uterus through the vagina rather than through the larger abdominal incision. Laparoscopy involves telescope-like instruments inserted through a small incision below the navel.
The procedure takes about two and one-half to three hours and is generally performed using general anesthesia. Complete recovery from a hysterectomy generally takes about six weeks. For women who have had their uteruses removed by laparoscopy, the recovery time is usually shorter. When the ovaries are removed, hormone production stops, and replacement hormone therapy may be recommended.
Be sure to visit The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website for more information.