This page will give you information about a hysterectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or relevant health professional.
You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your uterus (womb). Your cervix is usually also removed. Your ovaries may need to be removed at the same time.
What are the benefits of surgery?
A hysterectomy may cure or improve your symptoms. You will no longer have periods.
Are there any alternatives to an abdominal hysterectomy?
Heavy periods can be treated using oral medications, an IUD (intra-uterine device), or by removing only the lining of the 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 or uterine artery embolisation.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about an hour.
Your gynaecologist will make a cut on your abdomen, usually on your ‘bikini’ line. They will remove your womb, 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?
- feeling or being sick
- unsightly scarring
- developing a hernia
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- blood clots
- pelvic infection or abscess
- damage to structures close to your womb
- developing an abnormal connection
- developing a collection of blood
- vaginal cuff dehiscence
- continued pain
- tissues can join together in an abnormal way
- stress incontinence
- feelings of loss (a hysterectomy will make you infertile)
- menopause, even if your ovaries are not removed
How soon will I recover?
You will usually be able to go home after 4 to 6 days.
Rest for 2 weeks and continue to do the exercises that you were shown in hospital. You can usually return to work 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.
A hysterectomy is a major operation usually recommended after simpler treatments have failed. Your symptoms should improve.
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.
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Last reviewed: September 2018