Important Questions to Ask Before a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, the organ that holds a fetus during pregnancy. There are several types of hysterectomies that patients and physicians choose from, using different types of incisions and instruments. In addition, an oophorectomy, or surgery to remove the ovaries is often combined with a hysterectomy.

If the variety of procedures wasn't confusing enough, there are also multiple alternatives to a hysterectomy, including less invasive outpatient surgical procedures that leave the uterus intact and medication.

This list of questions to ask your surgeon is designed to help you choose the right procedure, or alternative to surgery, for you. Each woman and situation is different, so not all of the questions will be appropriate for you.

You can even print this list and use it as a reference during your consultation with your surgeon.

After reading through this list, you may have additional questions to add. It is always a good idea to write your questions down, as it is easy to forget them when you are sitting in the doctor's office.

Questions About Alternatives to Hysterectomy

  • If you would like to have children, what alternatives to hysterectomy are appropriate at this time?
  • If you are not interested in having children, what alternatives to hysterectomy are available?
  • Are there any procedures that will help you but leave your uterus intact?
  • What non-surgical alternatives are currently available?
  • Will this condition resolve without surgery at some point?
  • If you're nearing menopause, will menopause improve your symptoms without surgery?

Questions About Hysterectomy Procedures

There are many general questions that you should ask before having surgery, but there are additional specific questions you should ask if you are considering a hysterectomy.

You may find it difficult to understand the different types of hysterectomies that are available. There are different approaches, meaning where the incision is placed, which can dramatically alter your recovery. There are also additional procedures that may be combined with the hysterectomy, such as an oophorectomy (removing the ovaries) or removal of the cervix.

These questions will help you determine why your surgeon is recommending a specific type of hysterectomy and if it is the best surgery for you.

  • Which organs and structures does your doctor plan to remove?
  • Will your doctor be using an abdominal, vaginal, or laparoscopic technique? Can they explain the pros and cons of each technique?
  • How long should you expect to be in surgery and in the hospital afterward?
  • Will the surgery they are recommending cause menopause?
  • If you have endometriosis, what will they do to make sure there is minimal endometrial tissue left behind to cause problems after surgery?
  • Is this surgery a cure, or just a treatment?
  • Can they explain the pros and cons of removing the cervix versus leaving it intact?
  • Is there anything about your gynecological history that would cause your doctor to favor removing the cervix over leaving it in place?
  • If you have a history of ectopic pregnancy, is it a risk to leave your ovaries intact?
  • Why is your doctor recommending this type of hysterectomy rather than one of the many other types of hysterectomies?
  • You understand that you could continue to have periods if your cervix is left intact; why is your doctor recommending it not be removed?
  • Is it possible to combine a hysterectomy with another procedure (tummy tuck, bladder sling, etc)?
  • If you're nearing menopause, which you understand may significantly improve your fibroids, should you just wait until menopause instead of having surgery?

Questions About Life After Hysterectomy Surgery

If you are having a hysterectomy, it is important that you have reasonable expectations about what the surgery will do for you. These questions should help you determine if the procedure will give you the results you are looking for and the side effects you can expect.

In some cases, a hysterectomy may cure the condition making the surgery necessary. In other cases, a hysterectomy may only minimize symptoms or provide temporary relief. The following questions will help make sure you understand what type of outcome you can realistically expect after surgery.

Finding out as much as possible about a "normal" recovery after the procedure you choose will help you plan for any assistance you may need in the weeks following surgery. It is also important to find out what type of follow-up medical care you will require after your recovery. Some women will not require a yearly pap smear after surgery, other women will. It is important to know if you will continue to need this important test, which can detect precancerous and cancerous cells

  • What are the chances your symptoms could reoccur after surgery?
  • What are the chances that cancer has spread beyond your cervix/uterus/ovaries and will require further surgery?
  • Will your condition continue to get worse without surgery, or will it be more likely to continue as it currently is?
  • Does your doctor recommend hormone replacement therapy once the surgery is complete?
  • Will you continue to need regular pap smears after a hysterectomy?
  • How long after surgery will treatment be delayed for my cancer while you heal from this procedure?
  • When will it be safe to have sex after surgery?
  • When will you be able to take a bath or swim after surgery?

A Word From Verywell

A hysterectomy is a common surgery, but one that should be thoroughly considered before making the final decision to have the procedure. There are many different ways a hysterectomy can be performed and even more reasons why a hysterectomy may be recommended but that doesn't make it necessary. 

Take the time to research the procedure, the alternatives as well as the risks and rewards, as your recovery time and the final outcome will depend on the decisions you make.

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Article Sources
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Elective and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. January 2008.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis. American Family Physician. Accessed on January 31, 2009.
  • Hysterectomies. National Institutes of Health
  • Incidence of symptom reoccurrence after hysterectomy for endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility Journal. November 1995.

  • Spotting, despite hysterectomy, never considered “normal”. Dr. Peter Gott. The Daily Herald.

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Elective and risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy. January 2008.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis. American Family Physician.

  • Hysterectomies. National Institutes of Health.

  • Incidence of symptom reoccurrence after hysterectomy for endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility Journal. November 1995.

  • Spotting, despite hysterectomy, never considered “normal”. Dr. Peter Gott. The Daily Herald.