A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of a woman’s uterus, typically to treat cancer, chronic pain or heavy bleeding that has not been controlled by less invasive methods. For some women, structures other than the uterus are also removed, including part of the vagina, the cervix, the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Hysterectomies are the most common surgery performed exclusively on women.
The tissues removed depend upon the surgeon and the reason for surgery. For example, a woman who has cancer of the uterus may have the ovaries removed if there is a suspicion that cancer has spread there, while a woman who has chronic bleeding problems may have a satisfactory outcome with only a portion of the uterus being removed.
All types of hysterectomy end a woman's ability to become pregnant. Also, surgeries that include the removal of the ovaries cause menopause to set in after surgery, if the woman had not already entered menopause.