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What is a hysterectomy?

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Quick Answer

A hysterectomy is a procedure that surgically removes the uterus, explains WebMD. The procedure stops menstrual periods and ends the woman's ability to conceive a child, according to Womenshealth.gov. Some hysterectomy procedures involve the removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well.

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Full Answer

The most common reason for a hysterectomy is uterine fibroids, reports MedicineNet. Uterine fibroids warrant a hysterectomy if their size is larger than a two-month pregnancy, if they cause bleeding that is severe enough to result in anemia, and if they cause pain and pressure.

Doctors may recommend a hysterectomy if the woman has endometriosis, adenomyosis, severe pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and cancer of the cervix, uterus or ovaries, notes WebMD. For noncancerous reasons, doctors only perform a hysterectomy after exploring other options.

The three types of hysterectomies are supracervical hysterectomy, total hysterectomy and cervical hysterectomy, according to WebMD. If the ovaries are removed during the hysterectomy, the patient may experience menopause symptoms, Womenshealth.gov explains. The hysterectomy may last between one and three hours depending on the type of hysterectomy that the surgeon performs, reports Cleveland Clinic.

Doctors may perform a hysterectomy through a cut in the lower abdomen or a small cut in the vagina, Womenshealth.gov notes. A laparoscopic hysterectomy may also be performed, which involves inserting surgical tools through small cuts in the abdomen or vagina.

Learn more about Reproductive Anatomy

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