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Why is a hysterectomy performed?

Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy to treat a variety of diseases and conditions of the uterus and reproductive system. A hysterectomy may only be considered if other treatment options that involve less risk and fewer complications have been ineffective in treating your condition.

Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options to understand which option is best for you. Consider getting a second opinion, especially if you still want to bear children or have not yet reached menopause.

Your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy for:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding that does not get better with other treatments, such as medication or procedures that do not involve removal of the uterus

  • Adenomyosis, a thickening of the uterus that causes heavy, painful periods. Adenomyosis may be treated in some cases without a hysterectomy with medications and may go away on its own after menopause.

  • Cancer of the cervix, ovaries or uterus (often endometrial cancer). Certain cases of cervical cancer or precancerous changes of the cervix may be treated without removing the uterus.

  • Childbirth complications, such as uncontrolled bleeding or uterine rupture (rare)

  • Chronic pelvic pain that does not improve with other treatments

  • Endometriosis, an abnormal uterine tissue growth that causes severe menstrual pain, chronic low back and pelvic pain, and abnormal vaginal bleeding. Endometriosis can often be treated without a hysterectomy with medications or a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure to remove the endometrial lesions.

  • Uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors of the uterus that can cause significant bleeding and pain. Fibroids often need no treatment or may be treated without a hysterectomy with medications or less invasive procedures, such as uterine artery embolization myomectomy.

  • Uterine prolapse, which is when the uterus drops or slides into the vagina. Uterine prolapse is often treated with a hysterectomy. Other treatment options include a vaginal device (pessary) that holds the uterus in place, and a surgical procedure that uses ligaments to support the uterus.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 29, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Hysterectomy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  2. Hysterectomy.
  3. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.

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