What is a hysterectomy exactly?
You wouldn’t think this would be something that causes confusion, but because there are a couple of variations, and because the internet isn’t known for it’s accurate information, there is a lot of confusion. Let’s have a one question quiz….
What is a hysterectomy?
(choose as many as you think are correct)
1. Removal of the uterus
2. Removal of the uterus, tubes and ovaries
3. Removal of the uterus and ovaries
4. Removal of the uterus and cervix
The correct answer is…. 1 and 4.
Let me explain 🙂
The medical definition of a hysterectomy is “the surgical removal of the uterus”.
So with a hysterectomy: uterus, you’re outta here!
Your cervix is part of your uterus, so with a standard hysterectomy it’s also going. (There is a type of hysterectomy where you keep your cervix, more on that in the next article).
You’ll notice though a hysterectomy doesn’t include the removal of anything else. I’m going to say this loudly now, because it’s important and people will try to mislead you on this:
A HYSTERECTOMY DOES NOT INCLUDE THE REMOVAL OF YOUR OVARIES.
(Or your fallopian tubes, but let’s face it everyone is concerned with ovaries).
Your ovaries hold your eggs and release hormones each month (for more info read the Anatomy 101 article). Removing your ovaries will put you into menopause, because there will be no more hormone production. So I’m going to talk loudly again….
A HYSTERECTOMY DOES NOT PUT YOU INTO MENOPAUSE.
OK now we’ve clarified that stuff here’s some more details.
You can have your fallopian tubes or your ovaries removed at the same time as a hysterectomy. These days the tubes are often removed; they serve no purpose any more and research has shown something like 40% of ovarian cancers begin in the tubes, so it’s a good cancer prevention move. As for your ovaries, it is not common to have your ovaries removed any more. If there is nothing wrong with them, leave them in! Even after menopause they still produce a small amount of hormone. If there are issues with your ovaries, or there is a family risk of ovarian cancer, you may want to consider removal but this is something to discuss with your doctor.
So let’s get into some medical words:
Hysterectomy: removal of uterus
Bi-lateral salpingectomy: removal of both fallopian tubes
Bi-lateral oophorectomy: removal of both ovaries
(*bi-lateral = both sides)
So if you were having a hysterectomy with tube removal, you’d be having a hysterectomy with bi-lateral salpingectomy (which is what I had).
Every hysterectomy is not the same though, so the next step is to talk about the different types of hysterectomy.
Click here to read that article.