Hysterectomy – Vaginal

This page will provide you with information about a Vaginal Hysterectomy. For further details, you should speak to your consultant. A vaginal hysterectomy is a big operation and should only be considered after less invasive, simpler treatments have been tried. You should, however, see vast improvements to your symptoms after the surgery.

What is a vaginal hysterectomy?

Through a cut made by your gynaecologist at the top of the vagina, your uterus (womb) and cervix will be removed. Your ovaries can also be removed during this operation, but they will usually be left in place (see figure 1).

The main reasons women decide to undergo this major surgery is usually due to fibroid problems, extremely heavy and/or painful periods or uterine prolapse.

What are the benefits of this type of surgery?

After the operation, your symptoms should improve, or go completely. In addition, your periods will cease.

Are there any other options, other than a vaginal hysterectomy?

There are other, simpler treatments that should always be tried first:

  • Pelvic floor exercises can correct mild to moderate cases of uterine prolapse and should be carried out daily.
  • Heavy periods can be eased by taking oral medication, by removing just the lining of the womb, or by an intra-uterine device (IUD) – a small contraceptive device inserted into the uterus.
  • Oral medication could enable you to manage fibroid problems, depending on the size and position of them. Another option is to have an operation to remove only the fibroids or uterine artery embolization – a minimally invasive procedure.

What does a vaginal hysterectomy involve?

Your gynaecologist will use special surgical instruments to detach the womb from the ligaments holding it in place, by making a small incision around your cervix (at the top of the vagina). Your womb and cervix will then be removed. The surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic, so you will be unconscious during the procedure. The operation usually takes around an hour to complete. In order to minimise the risk of future prolapse, the ligaments that held your womb in place will be stitched to the top of your vagina.

Risks and complications

Any risks or complications will be discussed in advance of your treatment with your expert consultant.

When will I recover from the operation?

After 1-3 days, you doctor should allow you to go home. Once home, however, you will need to rest for at least two weeks and continue with the exercises recommended to you by your healthcare team. After 1-2 months, you should be able to return to work – although, of course, this will depend on your line of work. After 2-3 months, you should be feeling back to your usual self. Regular exercise can certainly help with this, however you should always seek professional advice before doing so.