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Vaginal hysterectomy

3-minute read

This page will give you information about a vaginal 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 vaginal hysterectomy?

A vaginal hysterectomy is an operation to remove your uterus and cervix through your vagina. It is possible also to remove your ovaries but they will usually be left alone.

Common reasons for having a vaginal hysterectomy include uterine prolapse, heavy or painful periods, and fibroids, where the muscle of your womb becomes overgrown.

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

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 a vaginal hysterectomy?

Symptoms of a uterine prolapse may be improved by doing pelvic floor exercises.

Heavy periods can be treated using oral medications, an IUD (intra-uterine device), or by removing only 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 or uterine artery embolisation.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic. The operation usually takes about 45 minutes.

Your gynaecologist will make a cut around your cervix at the top of your vagina so they can remove your womb and cervix.

They will usually stitch the support ligaments of your womb to the top of your vagina to reduce the risk of a future prolapse.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • blood clots

Specific complications

  • pelvic infection or abscess
  • damage to structures close to your womb
  • developing an abnormal connection
  • conversion to an abdominal hysterectomy
  • developing a collection of blood
  • vaginal cuff dehiscence

Long-term problems

  • prolapse
  • 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 1 to 3 days. Rest for 2 weeks and continue to do the exercises that you were shown in hospital. You can usually return to work after 4 to 6 weeks, depending on your type of work.

You should be feeling more or less back to normal after 2 to 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.

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.

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

Last reviewed: September 2018

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