Hysterectomy is for women who don’t respond to other treatments. It removes the entire uterus and should be considered a treatment of last resort. The procedure requires a hospital stay, and recovery can take up to eight weeks, although you may feel tired longer. After a hysterectomy, you can no longer become pregnant and you will stop having your period.
Hysterectomy is major surgery and can be performed in a variety of ways, including abdominally, vaginally and laparoscopically (laparoscopic hysterectomies are less invasive and can shorten the hospital stay and recovery time). You should have a discussion with your doctor about which surgery is right for you.
The risks of a hysterectomy are similar to other major abdominal operations, and include blood clots, severe infection, hemorrhage (which may require a blood transfusion), bowel obstruction and injury to the urinary tract or other internal organs. Possible complications following surgery include fever, urinary tract infection, constipation and pain or discomfort during sex.
If your ovaries are removed (a separate procedure, sometimes done at the same time as the hysterectomy), you will also experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, dizziness and night sweats. It is likely that you will need some type of hormone replacement therapy to reduce these symptoms.
If you want to have children in the future, you may have other treatment options.