Below are questions patients commonly ask prior to scheduling a hysterectomy. Your Community physician will be able to discuss these topics with you in further detail based on your individual health situation. To find a physician, try our online Find a Doctor tool.
Is hysterectomy my only option?
Ask your doctor if there are any minimally invasive alternatives to a hysterectomy. First make sure that the option of medical treatment has been adequately explored. This could include birth control pills, the Depo-Provera shot, or a Mirena intrauterine device. Other procedural options could include an endometrial ablation, which can be done for heavy bleeding or a uterine artery embolization, which can be done for fibroids.
How will the hysterectomy be performed?
There are different surgical techniques for performing a hysterectomy. Be sure to ask your doctor which procedure is best for you: abdominal, vaginal or laparoscopic.
Is it necessary to remove the ovaries as part of the hysterectomy?
Patients who have their ovaries removed as part of the hysterectomy will go through menopause following the procedure. The transition is more abrupt with surgical removal of the ovaries than with natural menopause. The ovaries still produce testosterone and small amounts of estrogen after menopause. Because hormone levels vary from woman to woman, medicines don’t always duplicate exactly the biochemical makeup of the ovary. “Your doctor will be able to guide you as to whether or not removal of the ovaries should be part of your hysterectomy procedure,” says Dr. Sylvia Ertel, M.D., Ob/Gyn at Community Health Network. “However, if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or have endometriosis you probably want to consider having your ovaries removed.”
Will my sex life change after surgery?
In general, post-hysterectomy sexual function is similar to pre-hysterectomy sexual function. The exception is that if you are having the hysterectomy to resolve pain during intercourse, sex should be more enjoyable once the uterus is removed. Studies have shown that post-hysterectomy sexual function is similar whether you leave the cervix in or remove it with the hysterectomy. Your doctor can answer this question based on your particular health situation.
How will I feel during recovery?
A common complaint after surgery is fatigue, so most patients need to take time to rest and recover. Recovery time varies by patient and by how the hysterectomy is performed (abdominally, vaginally or laparoscopically). “In general, if you are optimistic going into surgery, you will recover faster than someone who isn’t,” says Dr. Ertel. “Talk to your doctor about any questions you have prior to surgery, no matter how trivial the detail. We want you to feel as safe as possible before, during and after surgery.”