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.

beginning of content

Abdominal hysterectomy

4-minute read

This page will give you information about a hysterectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or relevant health professional.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your uterus (womb). Your cervix (neck of your womb) is usually also removed. Your fallopian tubes and ovaries may need to be removed at the same time.

What are the benefits of surgery?

There are common reasons for having an abdominal hysterectomy.

Illustration showing the womb and surrounding structures.
The womb and surrounding structures.

A hysterectomy may cure or improve your symptoms. You will no longer have periods.

Are there any alternatives to an abdominal hysterectomy?

  • Symptoms may be improved by doing pelvic floor exercises.
  • Heavy periods can be treated using a variety of non-hormonal and hormonal oral (by mouth) medications. Other alternatives include an IUS (intra-uterine system - an implant containing a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone that fits in your womb) or ‘conservative surgery’ to remove the lining of your womb.
  • Depending on the size and position of fibroids, you can take medication to try to control the symptoms. Other treatments include surgery to remove the fibroids only (myomectomy) or to shrink the fibroids by reducing their blood supply.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes about an hour.

They will make a cut on your abdomen, usually on your ‘bikini’ line or downwards from your belly button (and in some cases from above your belly button).

Your gynaecologist will remove your womb and fallopian tubes, usually along with your cervix, through the cut. To remove your cervix, they will also need to make a cut at the top of your vagina.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • bleeding
  • unsightly scarring of your skin
  • developing a hernia in the scar
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung

Specific complications of this operation

  • pelvic infection or abscess
  • vaginal cuff dehiscence
  • developing an abnormal connection (fistula) between your bowel, bladder or ureters and your vagina
  • damage to structures close to your womb
  • developing a collection of blood (haematoma) inside your abdomen

Long-term problems

  • developing a prolapse
  • continued bleeding from your cervix
  • your pain may continue
  • difficulty or pain having sex
  • tissues can join together in an abnormal way
  • passing urine more often, having uncontrolled urges to pass urine or urine leaking from your bladder when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
  • feelings of loss as a hysterectomy will make you infertile
  • going through menopause

How soon will I recover?

You will be able to go home when your gynaecologist decides you are medically fit enough, which is usually after 3 to 5 days.

Rest for 2 weeks and continue to do the exercises that you were shown in hospital.

You can return to work once your doctor has said you are well enough to do so (usually after 6 to 8 weeks, depending on your type of work). You should be feeling more or less back to normal after 3 months.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most women make a good recovery and return to normal activities.

Summary

A hysterectomy is a major operation usually recommended after simpler treatments have failed. Your symptoms should improve.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

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

Last reviewed: September 2021


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Hysterectomy

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

Hysterectomy

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

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

Hysterectomy - Better Health Channel

betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Read more on Better Health Channel 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

Menopause and Incontinence | Continence Foundation of Australia

Menopause and Incontinence. There are a few ways that menopause can impact on your bladder and bowel control. These include:

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Placenta accreta

Placenta accreta is a serious but rare pregnancy complication that causes heavy bleeding. If you have it, you will need special care at the birth.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby 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 Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo