Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Female adult patient talking with doctor about hysterectomy.

Female adult patient talking with doctor about hysterectomy.
beginning of content


2-minute read

A hysterectomy is major surgery to remove your uterus, or womb. In a total hysterectomy, the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus near the vagina, is also removed.

Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy if you have cancer of the uterus or if symptoms, such as heavy bleeding, haven't improved with other treatments.

Types of hysterectomy

Hysterectomy surgery may be:

  • abdominal — your uterus is removed through a cut in your lower abdomen
  • vaginal — your uterus is removed through your vagina
  • laparoscopic — instruments are passed through small incisions in and near your belly button

You should discuss with your doctor the best type for you.

You can't become pregnant after you've had a hysterectomy, so you have to be completely sure that you'll never want to become pregnant before you have one.

Why should I have a hysterectomy?

Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy if you have:

  • cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium or ovaries
  • non-cancerous tumors in your uterus
  • endometriosis - when the lining of your uterus grows outside the uterus
  • incontinence, pelvic pressure or difficulty with bowel movements
  • irregular, heavy or very long periods
  • chronic pelvic pain (after other possible causes have been ruled out)

Unless you have cancer, your doctor will probably recommend other treatments, such as medicines or other surgical procedures first.

Depending on your medical problem, your doctor may recommend you also have your cervix, ovaries or fallopian tubes removed.

Recovering from a hysterectomy

A hysterectomy has risks such as heavy bleeding and infection that you should discuss with your doctor. You may experience effects from the anaesthetic.

You'll be in hospital for at least a day or 2, and perhaps up to 7 days.

There may be vaginal bleeding and discharge for up to a few weeks after surgery.

Some women find a hysterectomy very difficult emotionally, worrying that they have lost something important about being a woman. Others find they feel much better after the operation, especially if symptoms like heavy bleeding have gone.

You won't be able to lift heavy objects or do anything strenuous for at least a few weeks. You shouldn’t drive a car for about 3 weeks and you shouldn’t have sex for 6 weeks after a hysterectomy. Standing for long periods can also be tiring.

You should contact your doctor if pain worsens or if you develop nausea or vomiting, or bleeding that's heavier than a menstrual period.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results


Hysterectomy is an operation where the uterus (womb) is removed.

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website


A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a woman’s uterus (womb) which is where a baby grows during pregnancy.

Read more on WA Health website

Hysterectomy | Jean Hailes

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove the uterus (womb). There are many reasons for having a hysterectomy including cancer, heavy and continuous…

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Hysterectomy - Better Health Channel

The conditions that prompt a hysterectomy can often be treated by other means, and hysterectomy should only be a last resort.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

What if I've had a hysterectomy? | Cervical Screening | Cancer Council

Some women who have had a hysterectomy may need to keep having Cervical Screening Tests. Find out more here

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Gynaecological surgery · Who's at risk? · Pelvic Floor First

Gynaecological or pelvic surgery such as a hysterectomy or pelvic radiotherapy can result in bladder problems.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Consumer information on heavy menstrual bleeding: An environmental scan | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

This work includes data on variation in hysterectomy and endometrial ablation that was highlighted in the first Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, the methods used for identifying and assessing the quality of health information resources, and key findings of the review.

Read more on Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care website

Uterus, cervix & ovaries - fact sheet | Jean Hailes

This fact sheet discusses some of the health conditions that may affect a woman's uterus, cervix and ovaries.

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Finding out about medically-induced early menopause: Women’s experiences - Healthtalk Australia

Read more on Healthtalk Australia website

Menopause | Continence Foundation of Australia

Menopause is a time of change in a woman's life. One of the changes that many women notice is increased difficulty with bladder and bowel control.

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo