Before Having a Hysterectomy

Are you facing a hysterectomy? Learn the facts about hysterectomy and alternatives before you decide whether a hysterectomy is a right choice for you. It is critical to understand when hysterectomy is elective surgery and when it is necessary to save your life. Although hysterectomy may provide relief from your condition, it's important to explore all alternatives before you choose hysterectomy.

Reasons for Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is not optional for some conditions. These conditions include invasive cancers of the female reproductive system; severe infections, such as PID, that are unresponsive to treatment; severe hemorrhaging; or rupture of the uterus. Other conditions that may be helped by hysterectomy include uterine prolapse, endometriosis, fibroids, chronic pelvic pain, or certain cases of hyperplasia.

Female Reproductive Organs Removed

A subtotal hysterectomy is the only hysterectomy that removes only the uterus. In a simple or total hysterectomy, only the uterus and cervix are removed. A hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy or radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. A supracervical hysterectomy leaves only the cervix intact, an option for women who have never had a bad Pap.


The sad fact is that 90 percent of the over 500,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States are classified by insurance companies as elective. If your physician has recommended a hysterectomy for a non-life-threatening condition, you owe it to yourself to explore your alternatives.

Surgical Menopause

Having both ovaries removed during hysterectomy causes an instant and, in many cases, intense onset of menopausal symptoms. Surgical menopause often causes more severe symptoms of menopause including more severe, frequent, and longer-lasting hot flashes than those whose menopause is natural. It's important to explore your options in hormone replacement before you have a hysterectomy.


Pain and fatigue are normal parts of recovering from a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy recovery takes from four to eight weeks. Sexual intercourse should not be resumed until you are told it is safe. You should not do any lifting, pushing, or pulling; this includes lifting babies or children. Even if you are feeling better you should not attempt strenuous activities for the full recovery period.

Support Groups

One of the best ways to find answers and support when making a decision about whether to have a hysterectomy or try an alternative procedure is to talk with other women with similar experiences. Hysterectomy forums are a great place to find answers in a supportive, non-judgemental environment. Talking with family members who have had a hysterectomy may provide useful insight, as well.

Sex After Hysterectomy

Removal of both the uterus and ovaries causes a rapid decline in sex hormones. Some women miss the uterine contractions that occur during orgasm. Removal of the cervix may cause a change in the way that penetration is experienced. Vaginal dryness often improves with the use of hormones or vaginal lubricants. Many women find their sex lives greatly improved after a hysterectomy.

Potential Long-Term Consequences

Because hysterectomy has long-term effects on a woman's health, longevity, and sexuality it is imperative that women understand these potential consequences. Women who have undergone hysterectomy may have a greater risk of heart disease and osteoporosis and may be more likely to become depressed. They may also experience low libido, inability to orgasm, or other sexual dysfunctions.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Boyd CA, Riall TS. Unexpected gynecologic findings during abdominal surgeryCurr Probl Surg. 2012;49(4):195–251. doi:10.1067/j.cpsurg.2011.12.002

  2. Lethaby A, Mukhopadhyay A, Naik R. Total versus subtotal hysterectomy for benign gynaecological conditions. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;(4):CD004993. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004993.pub3

  3. Jacoby VL, Vittinghoff E, Nakagawa S, et al. Factors associated with undergoing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy for benign conditions [published correction appears in Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Sep;114(3):696-7]Obstet Gynecol. 2009;113(6):1259–1267. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181a66c42

  4. Kives S, Lefebvre G. Supracervical hysterectomy. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010;32(1):62-68. doi:10.1016/S1701-2163(16)34407-3

  5. Stewart EA, Shuster LT, Rocca WA. Reassessing hysterectomyMinn Med. 2012;95(3):36–39.

  6. Rodriguez M, Shoupe D. Surgical Menopause. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2015;44(3):531-42. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.003

  7. Theunissen M, Peters ML, Schepers J, et al. Recovery 3 and 12 months after hysterectomy: epidemiology and predictors of chronic pain, physical functioning, and global surgical recovery [published correction appears in Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 May 19;96(20):e6957]Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(26):e3980. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000003980

  8. Parker WH, Jacoby V, Shoupe D, Rocca W. Effect of bilateral oophorectomy on women's long-term health. Womens Health (Lond). 2009;5(5):565-76. doi:10.2217/WHE.09.42

  9. Sood R, Faubion SS, Kuhle CL, Thielen JM, Shuster LT. Prescribing menopausal hormone therapy: an evidence-based approachInt J Womens Health. 2014;6:47–57. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S38342