A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus as well as the ovaries and fallopian tubes if necessary.
If women has a condition that is causing severe symptoms, and they do not wish to have any children in the future, a hysterectomy may help them improve their quality of life by significantly reducing their symptoms.
Conditions which may be treated with a hysterectomy
Endometriosis is when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus appear outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or other nearby organs. The tissue works in a similar way to the uterus tissue by building up and then breaking down and bleeding but unlike the uterus, the blood has nowhere to go which causes inflammation, pain and the build up of scar tissue. A hysterectomy can be used to remove the tissue which is causing pain.
A hysterectomy can be used to treat cancer of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb or cervix (entrance to the womb), specifically if the cancer is advanced or has spread.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths made of muscle and fibrous tissue, which grow in or around your uterus. They can cause heavy and painful periods, pelvic pain, constipation, abdominal pain, and pain during sex. A hysterectomy may be recommended if you have large fibroids that cause severe bleeding.
Prolapse of the womb
A prolapse occurs when the tissues and ligaments that support your womb become weak, causing it to drop down from its normal position. Symptoms can include back pain, a feeling that something is coming down out of your vagina, leaking urine (urinary incontinence) and difficulty having sex. It can often occur as a result of childbirth.
Heavy periods can often be caused by several different conditions, including uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is caused by a bacterial infection of your reproductive system. If detected early, it can be treated with antibiotics. However, if it spreads, it can damage the womb and fallopian tubes, causing long-term pain.
This is a common condition where the tissue that normally lines your womb starts to grow within its muscular wall.
Types of hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is usually only offered when all other treatments have been unsuccessful.
The procedure involved removing the uterus and possibly the removal of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix depending on your unique condition.
There are four main types of hysterectomy:
Total hysterectomy excluding ovaries and fallopian tubes
This is the removal of the womb and cervix, leaving the ovaries and fallopian tubes in place and is the most common type of hysterectomy
This is where the main part of the womb is removed but the cervix is left in place
Total hysterectomy including ovaries and fallopian tubes
This is where the womb, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed
This is where the womb and other surrounding tissues are removed, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, part of the vagina, lymph glands and fat tissue. A radical hysterectomy is usually performed to treat cancer when other treatments (eg chemotherapy and radiotherapy) haven't been successful or aren't suitable
How are hysterectomies performed?
Hysterectomies are performed in three ways:
Laparoscopic hysterectomy (keyhole minimally invasive surgery)
Where the womb is removed through small cuts
Where the womb is removed through a cut in the top of the vagina
Where the womb is removed through a cut in the lower abdomen
Recovering from a hysterectomy
As a hysterectomy is major surgery, you can stay in hospital for several days and take at least 6-8 weeks to recover, depending on the type of hysterectomy surgery you had.
If your ovaries were removed you will go through surgical menopause and will be offered treatment such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
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