Different Types of Hysterectomies

Extent of Organ Removal and Surgical Procedures

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of a woman’s uterus. This procedure is typically performed to treat gynecologic cancers, certain causes of chronic pelvic pain, or heavy bleeding that has not been controlled by less invasive methods.

Because you cannot get pregnant after having a hysterectomy, other medications or procedures are sometimes tried beforehand. Some women opt for other treatments until after they have completed their families. Sometimes when medical alternatives are chosen instead of a hysterectomy, additional treatment will be needed.

Surgeons performing surgery in operating room
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Types of Hysterectomy

There are three different types of hysterectomies, and the one that's best for you depends on why you need this procedure in the first place.

Complete or Total Hysterectomy 

This type of hysterectomy involves removal of both the uterus and the cervix. The majority of women undergoing hysterectomies have a complete or total hysterectomy.

Partial or Subtotal Hysterectomy (Supracervical Hysterectomy)

This type of hysterectomy involves removal of the upper two-thirds of the uterus and leaves the cervix intact. Women who have never had an abnormal Pap smear result may be candidates for this type of hysterectomy.

Some believe a partial or subtotal hysterectomy helps to reduce sex-related consequences. It can be performed laparoscopically or abdominally.

Radical Hysterectomy

During a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, the cervix, the upper part of the vagina, and supporting tissues are removed. A radical hysterectomy may be necessary in certain cases of cancer.

When both ovaries and both fallopian tubes are removed during a hysterectomy, it is referred to as a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Removal of the ovaries before a woman reaches natural menopause often causes induced or medical menopause.

Types of Hysterectomy Procedures

There are different types of surgical procedures used in performing a hysterectomy.

Abdominal Hysterectomy

This surgery gives the surgeon the most complete view of what is going on in the pelvis. It is done with an incision in the abdomen that can be vertical or horizontal, and the surgery will leave a scar. It may be done when there are adhesions or if the uterus is very large.

The drawbacks are that there is a greater risk of certain complications compared with less-invasive procedures. These risks include infection, bleeding, clots, and damage to nerves and tissues. You will also probably need a longer stay in the hospital after an abdominal hysterectomy.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

This is a minimally-invasive procedure using a laparoscope. The surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. The uterus is removed in pieces, either through the abdominal incisions or through the vagina.

The advantages compared with an abdominal hysterectomy are that there is often less pain, less risk of infection, and less time spent in the hospital. But there is still a risk of injury to the urinary tract and other organs.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

This hysterectomy is performed entirely through the vagina, avoiding any abdominal incisions or scars. It is a common choice unless there are reasons for using the more invasive procedures, such as adhesions or a large uterus.

You should have a shorter healing time and return to your usual activities than with the other types of hysterectomy.

A Word From Verywell

Having a hysterectomy can be stressful. And the reason that you need to have a hysterectomy can be stressful too. Be sure to ask your surgeon questions before your hysterectomy so you understand the procedure, risks, side effects, and expected recovery time. You might experience health changes after you heal, such as induced menopause if you haven't already been through menopause. You also will experience substantial relief from the symptoms that led to your need for a hysterectomy. It's helpful to try to get a preview of what you should expect in advance and to talk to your healthcare providers about what you can do to cope with any post-hysterectomy symptoms.

3 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. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Hysterectomy.

  2. Moria A, Tulandi T. A critical review of laparoscopic total hysterectomy versus laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomyGynecological Surgery. 2010;8(1):7-12. doi:10.1007/s10397-010-0629-5.

  3. American Cancer Society. Surgery for Cervical Cancer.

By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.