Hysterectomies are carried out to treat a number of heath problems that affect female reproductive health.

Around 40,000 hysterectomy operations are carried out in the UK each year, according to the NHS. Most of these are performed on women aged between 40 and 50.

They’re considered a major operation with a long recovery time, but why might you have one?

The NHS lists four health problems that may require a hysterectomy:

  • Heavy periods
  • Long-term pelvic pain
  • Non-cancerous tumours (fibroids)
  • Ovarian cancer, womb cancer, cervical cancer or cancer of the fallopian tubes

Types of hysterectomy

There are three ways to carry out a hysterectomy – laparoscopic hysterectomy, vaginal hysterectomy and abdominal hysterectomy.

Abdominal hysterectomy is where the womb is removed through a cut in the lower tummy.

Vaginal hysterectomy is where the womb is removed through a cut in the top of the vagina.

Laparoscopic hysterectomy is keyhole surgery, where small cuts are made in the tummy and the womb is removed through a cut in the vagina.

Recovering from a hysterectomy

It takes between four to eight weeks to recover after a hysterectomy, but recovery time is different for everyone.

There are a number of things to think about as part of the recovery, according to Bupa.

For example, it’s important to do pelvic floor exercises as part of your recovery to strengthen these muscles.

The healthcare company explains: “Your pelvic floor muscles help to hold your abdominal organs in the right place and keep your bladder and bowel closed. You may see a physiotherapist before you’re discharged from hospital, who will show you how to do these.”

Also, when you go back to work will depend on the type of job you do, how physical it is and how well you feel.

For example, if your job is more physical, recovery may be six to eight weeks.

What are the complications of a hysterectomy?

As with all types of surgery, complications can occur during or after the operation.

Complications can include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Infection of the wound
  • Vaginal infection
  • Urine infection
  • Deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a vein in the lower leg
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