Medical Notes

What Is Hysterectomy; What Does It Do?

What Is Hysterectomy; What Does It Do?

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus (uterus). It is one of the most common of all surgical procedures for women in the UK. It can also involve the removal of part of the vagina, the Fallopian tubes. ovaries and cervix to cure or help a number of gynaecological complaints. Following this operation you will no longer have periods, you will not be fertile and you will not be able to have any more children.

There are two main ways to perform a hysterectomy. The most common way is to remove the uterus through a cut in the lower abdomen, the second, less common, way is to remove only the uterus through a cut in the top of the vagina, the top of vagina is then stitched.

Briefly, hysterectomy is the removal of a woman’s uterus. Generally her cervix is removed as well. If her ovaries are re-moved, it is called ovariectomy or oophorcctomy. The second term is pronounced “o’ a fer ec’ to me,” or “oo’ fer ec’ to me.” If the ovaries are removed, the fallopian tubes are usually re-moved also. We often refer to this procedure as “total hysterectomy,” but the technical term is “panhysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.” “Pan” means the uterus and cervix, “salpinges” or “salpinx” are the tubes, and “bilateral” means both sides. The suffix “ectomy” means removal.

“Partial” hysterectomy sometimes means removing only the uterus and not the ovaries; sometimes it means the uterus and not the cervix. Since women and health professionals use a variety of meanings for it, I generally do not use the tarn “partial.”

Our vagina is the channel that leads from the uterus to the outside of the body. The cervix is the portion of the uterus that extends into the vagina. It has a small opening called the os, which opens wide during childbirth. The menstrual flow comes through .

The ovaries produce hormones that go into the bloodstream. They also produce an egg more or less monthly (ovulation) be-tween puberty and menopause, except when we are pregnant or nursing or taking birth control pills. The fallopian tubes carry the egg to the uterus. Menstruation follows unless sperm fertilizes the egg, making us pregnant. After hysterectomy, we will not have menstrual periods and we will not become pregnant. We will, however, still have our monthly hormone cycles, unless our ovaries are removed. We will have our vagina and can still have sex.

If our ovaries are removed, our hormone level changes very suddenly and we experience “instant menopause,” which I call “menostop,” unless we have gone through menopause already. As you look at the diagram, note some things you may not have known before. One is that the ovaries are not attached to the fallopian tubes. They “float” in the pelvic cavity. Also notice that the cervix is actually part of the uterus. It extends into the vagina and feels like the tip of a nose if you reach your finger up into your vagina. After the uterus is removed the other organs of the pelvic cavity move around to fill in the space it occupied.

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