First Time User? Enroll now.
*Vaccine availability and appointments* | Additional COVID-19 Resources | Testing
Please be aware that mask-wearing is required at all UNC Health facilities.
Home > Health Library > Hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is surgery to take out your uterus. This is the organ in your lower belly where a fetus grows during pregnancy. After a hysterectomy, you won't be able to get pregnant.
Other organs might also be removed if you have severe problems such as endometriosis or cancer. These organs include the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
A hysterectomy is done to treat problems with the uterus, such as pain and heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis or uterine fibroids. It may be done to treat cancer in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Some people choose to have it to treat noncancerous reproductive system conditions or as part of a gender-affirming surgery.
There are many different ways to do hysterectomy surgery. The most common procedures are:
In this procedure, the doctor makes a cut in your belly. The doctor takes out the uterus through this cut.
The doctor takes out the uterus through your vagina. The doctor makes a small cut in the vagina instead of the belly.
The doctor puts a lighted tube (laparoscope) through small cuts in your belly. The doctor can see your organs with the scope. The doctor can insert surgical tools to remove the uterus through the belly or the vagina.
You might go home the day of your hysterectomy or stay in the hospital for several days. Recovery can take 4 to 6 weeks. It depends on which type of surgery you have and your overall health. You will have to take it easy for a few weeks and avoid heavy lifting.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Most often, a hysterectomy is done to treat problems with the uterus. These problems include pain and heavy bleeding caused by endometriosis or uterine fibroids. The surgery may also be needed if there is cancer in the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. And it may be done as life-saving surgery if there is heavy bleeding during childbirth that can't be stopped.
In most cases, hysterectomy is an elective surgery. You can choose to have it to treat noncancerous female reproductive system conditions that haven't improved with medical treatment. If you don't plan to get pregnant and have tried other treatment options without success, it may be a reasonable treatment choice.
Other reasons for hysterectomy include:
Sometimes there is a health reason to have your ovaries removed during a hysterectomy. These can be things like a tumor on an ovary or a high risk for cancer of the ovaries. But most of the time, you can choose whether to have them removed based on what you prefer.
There are three major types of hysterectomy. Which type you have will depend on the reason for the surgery. Your doctor will consider the size and position of your uterus and your overall health.
This is surgery to remove the uterus and the cervix. The cervix is the lower "neck" of the uterus that opens into the vagina.
This surgery removes the uterus, but it leaves the cervix in place. It's also known as a subtotal or partial hysterectomy.
This removes the uterus, the cervix, part of the vagina, and some tissues around these organs. The ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby lymph nodes may also be removed. It may be done to treat endometriosis or cancer of the uterus, ovaries, or cervix.
There are many ways to do the surgery. The type you have may depend on your medical condition and the size and position of your uterus. It also depends on your overall health. Talk with your doctor about which type is right for you.
This is done through a cut that the doctor makes in the lower belly. The cut is called an incision. The doctor takes out the uterus through this cut in the belly.
This is done through the vagina. The doctor makes a small cut in the vagina instead of the belly. The uterus is removed through this cut in the vagina.
The doctor puts a lighted tube (laparoscope) through small cuts in the belly. The doctor can see your organs with the scope. The doctor can insert surgical tools to cut the tissue that holds your uterus in place. Then the uterus is removed. It may be removed through small cuts in the belly. (This is called laparoscopic abdominal hysterectomy.) Or it may be removed through the vagina. (This is called laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy.)
Hysterectomy poses some risks of major and minor complications. But most people don't have these problems after the surgery.
Your risk of problems after surgery may be higher or lower than average. This may depend in part on your overall health and how experienced the surgeon is.
Complications after the surgery include:
Possible ongoing problems include:
After a hysterectomy, call your doctor or go to the emergency room if:
Your doctor will give you specific instructions after your hysterectomy. Be sure to follow them. Usually, getting some rest and following those instructions will help post-surgery problems diminish over time.
You might go home the day of your hysterectomy or stay in the hospital for several days. Recovery can take 4 to 6 weeks. It depends on which type of surgery you have and your overall health. You won't be able to do any heavy lifting. And you will have to take it easy for a few weeks. It's common to feel more tired than usual.
After surgery, you will no longer have periods. You won't be able to get pregnant. If there's a chance that you will want to get pregnant in the future, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
Most people can have sex without problems after they recover from surgery. But if you have your ovaries removed, you may have vaginal dryness after the surgery. It can make sex less comfortable. A vaginal lubricant, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly, can help.
You may need to take hormones after your surgery if your ovaries are removed and you haven't gone through menopause. Taking out the ovaries before menopause causes a sudden drop in the hormone estrogen. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of taking hormones if you have your ovaries removed.
Current as of:
November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineKirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: November 22, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.