Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment D and C endometrial ablation hysterectomy questions for doctor specialist Home Care pain taking control warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Abnormal Bleeding from the Uterus Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy may be part of the treatment of severe dysfunctional uterine bleeding that fails to respond to other measures.

What is a hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy means the surgical removal of the uterus. There are several different ways a hysterectomy can be performed.

For the most part, they differ in regard to:

  • How much of the uterus is removed
  • How the uterus is removed
  • What other nearby organs might be removed along with the uterus
  • The size of the incision:
    • A larger conventional incision
    • A smaller incision using laparoscopy

The surgery may be performed through an incision that is made in the lower abdomen. It is also performed through the vagina. This is called a vaginal hysterectomy. During this surgery, only the uterus can be removed. Sometimes a flexible tube with a light on it is placed into the abdomen to assist with this surgery.

What happens after the uterus is removed?
After this procedure most women feel no different. The removal of the uterus makes future pregnancy impossible. It also removes the source of a woman's menstrual period. If the ovaries are removed, then menopause will occur. This is due to the lack of estrogen hormones. In many cases this will need to be corrected with hormone medicines.

Who needs a hysterectomy?
Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to correct a number of different medical problems. A hysterectomy is not recommended for women who are still interested in childbearing and just wish to avoid their menstrual periods.

Problems that may be treated with hysterectomy include the following:

How is a hysterectomy performed?
This operation is usually performed in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia. This means you are totally asleep during the procedure. You can have nothing to eat or drink for at least 12 hours prior to the operation. You may need an enema and a vaginal douche to help keep the surgical area clean. Pre-medication is usually given to make you sleepy. An intravenous line is started, and a bladder catheter is usually inserted to drain urine during and after surgery.

A standard abdominal hysterectomy is done through an incision in the lower abdomen. The uterus and ovaries are found and removed. Some doctors recommend removing your appendix at this time.

A vaginal hysterectomy removes the cervix and uterus through the vagina. The end of the vagina is closed with sutures. The ovaries and very large uterine fibroids cannot be removed using this procedure. Vaginal hysterectomy is a good option for women who just need the uterus removed.

Fiberoptic instruments allow many abdominal operations to be performed laparoscopically. This surgery uses small puncture-like incisions and long, thin instruments. This allows the surgeon to see and operate inside the abdomen.

What happens after surgery?
Most women do very well after either type of hysterectomy. Most report complete relief of their symptoms and enhanced quality of life.

With abdominal hysterectomy, there will be several days of pain control and convalescence required in the hospital. The incision needs to be kept clean and watched for signs of infection. Since incisions are made through the abdominal wall, activity must be slowly increased and heavy activity limited for 3-6 weeks while healing occurs. Sexual intercourse is usually not recommended for 6 weeks.

Vaginal hysterectomy usually requires a shorter period of recuperation since a large abdominal incision is not necessary. A very short hospitalization or even an overnight stay (after surgery) in an outpatient facility is an option with this approach.

Are there any other changes after surgery?
Although the majority of women recover uneventfully, some women have problems after surgery. A few complain of weakness and fatigue for a period of time. Bladder control problems affect a few women. Menopause will result when the ovaries are removed. From one quarter to one half of women will have some change in their sexual drive.

What are the risks associated with surgery?
Any surgery that requires general anesthesia carries some risk. Complications are more common in women with serious medical conditions. Women who smoke will have a much higher risk of complications than nonsmokers.

Other risks of hysterectomy include:

The organs most likely to be damaged during this procedure are the ureters. It is rare to have a serious complication from a hysterectomy if you are an otherwise healthy person.

After hysterectomy, you should call your doctor if you develop:

Are there alternatives to hysterectomy?
Abnormal uterine bleeding often responds to hormonal therapy. Sometimes a simple D and C procedure will help. This is a surgical procedure that removes only the inner lining of the uterus.

Many small cancers of the cervix can be treated without the complete removal of the uterus. Benign fibroid tumors may be treated with a number of procedures. Talk with your OB-GYN physician about which options might be best for you.

Continue to Abnormal Bleeding from the Uterus Questions For Doctor

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed Abnormal Bleeding from the Uterus References
  1. Abbott J, Hawe J, Hunter D, Garry R. A double-blind randomized trial comparing the Cavaterm and the NovaSure endometrial ablation systems for the treatment of dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Fertil Steril. 2003 Jul;80(1):203-8. [12849825]
  2. Agarwal N, Kriplani A. Medical management of dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2001 Nov;75(2):199-201. [11684117]
  3. Bourdrez P, Bongers MY, Mol BW. Treatment of dysfunctional uterine bleeding: patient preferences for endometrial ablation, a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device, or hysterectomy. Fertil Steril. 2004 Jul;82(1):160-6. [15237006]
  4. Munro MG. Dysfunctional uterine bleeding: advances in diagnosis and treatment. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Oct;13(5):475-89. [11547028]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.