(Surgical Removal of the Uterus [or Womb]; Abdominal Hysterectomy; Vaginal Hysterectomy)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus (womb). Pregnancy will no longer be possible.
There are different types this surgery:
Reasons for Procedure
This procedure may be done if the uterus is causing health problems that cannot be treated by other means. It may also be done to:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
This surgery will be done in one of two ways:
Open Abdominal Hysterectomy
An incision will be made in the lower abdomen. This will expose the tissue and blood vessels that surround the uterus. The tissue will then be cut. The blood vessels will be tied off. The uterus will be removed. Next, the abdominal wall will be sewn back together and the skin will be closed with stitches or staples. If the cervix is also removed, stitches will be put in the top of the vagina. Bandages will be placed over the abdomen. The vagina will be packed with gauze. This will be removed in 1 to 2 days.
Open Vaginal Hysterectomy
This method will not involve any outside incisions. The vagina will be stretched and kept open with special tools. Next, the uterus and cervix will be cut free. The connecting blood vessels will be tied off. The uterus and cervix will be removed through the vagina. Lastly, the top of the vagina will be closed with stitches. The vagina will be packed with gauze. This will be removed in 1 to 2 days.
How Long Will It Take?
1 to 3 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain, bloating, and vaginal discharge and bleeding are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 1 to 3 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
It will take about 3 to 8 weeks to fully heal, depending on which procedure was done. Physical activity and sex will be limited during this time. Tampons will need to be avoided. Ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
Call Your Doctor
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Hysterectomy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/~/link.aspx?_id=38BFB30FBDF24ABBB6B8AF4406E9100D&_z=z. Accessed August 25, 2021.
Hysterectomy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/hysterectomy. Accessed August 25, 2021.
Hysterectomy. Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/hysterectomy. Accessed August 25, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG