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Complete Hysterectomy: What Is It?

A vaginal hysterectomy is performed through the vagina, rather than through the abdominal wall. It results in no external scarring. A total or complete vaginal hysterectomy means that the entire uterus is removed through the vagina. Reasons for having the surgery performed include extremely painful menstrual cramps that do not respond to other treatments and confirmed or suspected uterine or cervical cancer.

Although hysterectomy may be the only treatment for uterine cancer and some forms of cervical cancer, a woman who wishes to have children may want to explore other options. Once the uterus is removed, the woman cannot have children. It is wise in such cases to get a second opinion from another reputable gynecological specialist.

In cases of ovarian cancer, or uterine cancer that may have spread, an abdominal hysterectomy may be the only option. The surgeon cannot remove the ovaries through the vagina, and he may want to have an open field in order to determine if the malignancy has spread to any other areas of the abdomen. Laparoscopic surgery may be another option, but it depends on the particular case.

Following a total vaginal hysterectomy, a woman will no longer have monthly menses. In this surgery, the ovaries are usually preserved so female hormones continue to be released. Many women will still have symptoms of menopause when they reach the appropriate age. If a woman is already having menopausal symptoms, this surgery will not stop those symptoms. If the ovaries are removed.,women suffer immediate symptoms of menopause.

In most cases, women undergoing total vaginal hysterectomy only require an overnight hospital stay. The patient will probably have to curtail daily activities for at least a few weeks, generally four to six weeks. The lack of external scarring makes this procedure popular with patients. It is easier for older patients to withstand this surgery and the risk of infection is much less than with abdominal hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy refers to removal of the uterus only. The ovaries and fallopian tubes can also be removed at the same time, but they are not necessarily removed in a hysterectomy. Repairs to the bladder and colon can also be made during a hysterectomy.

While allergic reactions to anesthesia and infection are considerations with any surgery, complications from vaginal hysterectomy can include sexual problems and minor damage to other organs from the surgery. There may be issues regarding infection or healing of the surgical sites.

While most patients prefer the vaginal hysterectomy to other surgical options, there are contraindications for vaginal hysterectomy. A grossly enlarged uterus, very large fibroid tumors, and certain types of cancers can rule out vaginal hysterectomy as an option. In some cases, after a vaginal hysterectomy is planned, certain factors can cause the doctor to perform an abdominal hysterectomy instead.

If your doctor recommends surgery, discuss his reasons with him thoroughly so you understand why he feels you require the surgery. If you have any doubts, seek a second opinion from another qualified physician.

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