Abdominal Hysterectomy

This page will provide you with information about Abdominal Hysterectomy. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is Abdominal Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is surgery carried out on women to remove their womb. The cervix can also be removed, as well as your ovaries. These can all be removed during the same procedure (see figure 1).

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The reasons for choosing to have an abdominal hysterectomy can vary from woman to woman, but they are usually an option for those suffering from fibroids, ovarian cysts or heavy periods/extremely painful menstruation cramps.

What are the benefits of having the operation?

After an abdominal hysterectomy, you will no longer have periods. You should find that your symptoms that you have been suffering with are cured or drastically improved.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

There are medications to take for heavy periods, and there is also the option of an IUD (intra-uterine device) or having an operation to remove just the lining of the womb. Dependent on the position and sizing of the fibroids, medication can be prescribed to ease and control the symptoms. Other options include an operation to take out the fibroids only or uterine artery embolisation.

What will happen during the operation?

The gynaecologist will make a cut to your ‘bikini’ line and remove the womb through the cut. The cervix can also be removed at this stage, after a cut is made to the top of the vagina. The surgery typically takes around an hour and is performed under general anaesthetic.

What complications could arise?

1 General complications

  • Nausea or being sick
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications

  • Developing a fistula
  • Pelvic abscess or infection
  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence
  • Damage to structures near womb
  • Developing a haematoma

Long-term problems

Other long-term issues can be emotional ones, such as a feeling of loss (the hysterectomy will mean you are infertile) and stress incontinence. You could prolapse, experience continued pain or adhesions and you could go through the menopause, even if your ovaries have not been removed.

What is the post-surgery recovery time?

After 4-6 days, your doctor will usually allow you to go home and rest for a fortnight. You will need to keep up the exercises that you have been shown in hospital, and will normally be allowed to return to work after 6-8 weeks, job dependent. After around 12 weeks you should be feeling more or less back to normal; regular exercise can help achieve this. Prior to starting any exercise regime, you should always consult your GP.


A major operation, this type of surgery should not be taken lightly. Other less invasive treatments should be tried first.

References: EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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