Hysterectomy is a major surgery. It is possible that your condition may be treated without this major surgery. Talk with your doctor or nurse about all your treatment options. Less invasive procedures include:
Increased risk of heart disease if the ovaries are removed before menopause
Estrogen replacement therapy can help decrease the risk of heart disease and may help menopause symptoms.
Before the Procedure
Before deciding to have a hysterectomy, ask your doctor or nurse what to expect after the procedure. Many women who have had a hysterectomy notice changes in their body and in how they feel about themselves. Talk with your doctor, nurse, family, and friends about these possible changes before you have surgery.
Always tell your health care team about all the medicines you are taking, including herbs, supplements, and other medicines you bought without a prescription.
During the days before the surgery:
You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs like these.
Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help quitting.
On the day of your surgery:
You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 8 hours before the surgery.
Take any medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure
After surgery, you will be given pain medicines to relieve any discomfort.
You may also have a tube, called a catheter, inserted into your bladder for 1 to 2 days to pass urine.
You will be asked to get up and move around as soon as possible after surgery. This helps prevent blood clots from forming in your legs and speeds up recovery.
You will be asked to get up to use the bathroom as soon as you are able. You may return to a normal diet as soon as you can without causing nausea or vomiting.
How long you stay in the hospital depends on the type of hysterectomy. Sometimes, you can go home the next day. Other times, most women who have a hysterectomy stay in the hospital 2 to 3 days. The hospital stay may be longer if the hysterectomy is done because of cancer.
How long it takes you to recover depends on the type of hysterectomy. Recovery may take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Average recovery times are:
Abdominal hysterectomy: 4 - 6 weeks
Vaginal hysterectomy: 3 - 4 weeks
Robot-assisted hysterectomy: 2 - 4 weeks
A hysterectomy will cause menopause if you also have your ovaries removed. Removal of the ovaries can also lead to a decreased sex drive. Your doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy.
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National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Cervical Cancer. v.1.2010
Middleton LJ, Champaneria R, Daniels JP, et al. Hysterectomy, endometrial destruction, and levonorgestrel releasing intrauterine system (Mirena) for heavy menstrual bleeding: systematic review and meta-analysis of data from individual patients. BMJ. 2010 Aug 16;341:c3929.
ACOG Committee Opinion No. 444: choosing the route ofhysterectomy for benign disease. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;114(5):1156-1158.
David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine.