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

Vaginal hysterectomy

4-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.

What is a vaginal hysterectomy?

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

What are the benefits of surgery?

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

There are common reasons for having a hysterectomy.

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

Are there any alternatives to a vaginal 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’ where only the lining of your womb is removed.
  • 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 uterine artery embolisation to reduce the blood flow to the fibroids.

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 45 minutes.

Your gynaecologist will examine your vagina. They 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 and may place a pack (like a large tampon) in your vagina.

What complications can happen?

Some of these can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

  • pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • bleeding
  • blood clot in your leg
  • blood clot in your lung
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)

Specific complications of this operation

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

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 1 to 3 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 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.

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.

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 2019


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

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

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

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

Read more on Healthtalk Australia website

FAQ

Frequently asked questions of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. FAQ

Read more on Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation website

Sex and the ageing process - myDr.com.au

Most older people are able to enjoy an active and satisfying sex life.

Read more on myDr website

What is Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) and is it safe? - Australasian Menopause Society

What is Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) and is it safe?

Read more on Australasian Menopause Society website

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Exercise - Exercise Right.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is common, and can affect women young or old, most commonly post-natally. Almost 1 in 5 Australian women will need surgery for prolapse during their lifetime.

Read more on Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) website

Fibroids - myDr.com.au

Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths of the uterus (womb). The most common symptoms associated with fibroids are heavy or irregular periods, but often there are no symptoms.

Read more on myDr website

Diagnosis

If cell changes develop into cervical cancer, a number of tests are run to find a diagnosis. A description of some of the test can be found here.

Read more on Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation 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