A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus. Depending on your condition, the hysterectomy may be:

  • TOTAL – The uterus and cervix are removed.
  • TOTAL with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) – The uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes are removed.
  • RADICAL - This procedure is performed for certain cancers. The uterus, cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, upper portion of the vagina and some surrounding tissues and lymph nodes are removed.

A woman no longer menstruates after a hysterectomy, and she is no longer able to become pregnant. She will still produce hormones and release eggs until menopause, unless the ovaries are removed.

Where is the procedure done?

Hysterectomies are done at an inpatient surgical unit and will require time spent in the hospital. Your hospital stay will depend on your condition and the type of surgery. The average hospital stay is 2-3 nights.

What do I need to do prior to the procedure?

You will need to meet with the ADVANCED ADMISSION PREPARATION department for lab work and x-rays. These tests could include blood test, urine test, chest x-ray and x-rays of your kidneys. You will receive instructions for a bowel prep to do prior to your surgery. You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery.

What risks or complications could occur?

Sometimes after surgery there can be some complications. Being aware of them can help you with preventing them from happening.

  • To help prevent blood clots you may be given an anti-coagulant. EPC ‘s will be applied during surgery and used until you are walking. The nurse will assist you in walking the day after your surgery.
  • To help prevent pneumonia, you will be shown how to do exercises such as coughing and deep breathing.

What can I expect after the surgery?

After surgery, you will spend a few hours in the recovery area. Then you will be moved to your hospital room where you may stay 3-5 days.

  • Your incision may be sutured or stapled. You may also have 1 or 2 tubes near your incision to drain fluid from the incision site.
  • You will have an IV for hydration and pain control.
  • You will have had a catheter placed in your bladder during surgery. It is usually removed the day after surgery.
  • You will be able to take fluids by mouth after your bowel function returns.
  • You may have vaginal bleeding as a result of surgery and need to wear a sanitary napkin.

What should I expect during my home recovery?

Your recovery at home usually takes 4-6 weeks. During that time, you can do a great deal to make sure that you regain your health and energy while avoiding injury.

  • You will need to choose a variety of nutritious foods and drink 6-8 glasses of fluid each day to avoid constipation. You may also need a stool softener or laxative, which can be obtained, from your pharmacy.
  • Walking is good for circulation and you may do so in moderation. Stairs are also tolerated but you should use a handrail to prevent falling. Do NOT lift anything heavier than 25 pounds for at least 4 weeks after surgery. Avoid activities that can strain your incision such as, vacuuming, ironing, or laundry.
  • No driving is permitted for 10-14 days from the date of your surgery. If you are a passenger for an extended length of time, please get out and stretch after 1-2 hours to help prevent circulatory problems.
  • To aid healing and to help prevent infection, you should refrain from sexual intercourse, using tampons, vaginal douching, tub baths, public pools and hot tubs. Showering is recommended and daily washing of your incision with soap and water.

A nurse will remove your staples 1-week after your surgery. Steri-strips will be applied at this time. Your incision line should be dried well after showering. The steri-strips can be removed a week later if they have not fallen off with showering. You will need to make a follow-up appointment with the doctor for 4-weeks after your surgery for a pelvic exam. After a hysterectomy a yearly Pap test still needs to be done by your family doctor or gynecologist.

If your ovaries were removed or are no longer functioning, you’ve lost your main source of natural estrogen. The doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy to counter the effects of the hormone loss. More information will be provided as necessary.