Considering A Hysterectomy: Learn The Possible Side Effects Of A Total Hysterectomy

What Is A Total Hysterectomy?

A total hysterectomy is a major surgery involving the complete surgical removal of the uterus and the cervix. Often this is done as a last resort and a permanent measure to treat several conditions relating to a woman’s reproductive anatomy. These include: uterine fibroids, a prolapsed uterus, endometriosis and adenomyosis. A hysterectomy is also often used to help with abnormal vaginal bleeding and chronic pelvic pain.

Possible Side Effects

A hysterectomy is typically considered to be safe and most women who have this surgery never experience complications. However, like every surgery there is a possibility that you may experience some or all of the side effects of a total hysterectomy.

Blood Loss And Clots

As with most major surgeries excessive blood loss (hemorrhage) causing a patient to need a life saving blood transfusion is a possibility, although rare. An increased risk of developing blood clots located in the legs or lungs following surgery is more likely. The threat of developing clots can last up to six weeks after surgery and taking precautions to prevent this from occurring is recommended.

Infection

Infection is another side effect to be aware of whenever surgery occurs. Your surgeon and his staff will take precautions to make sure that this does not happen, however an infection within the vagina or along the surgical site can still happen. There are several signs and symptoms to look out for including: fever, swelling, pain and even a foul odor. It is imperative to report signs of an infection to your physician to avoid it from spreading and causing serious risk to your health.

Constipation And Urinary Retention

Constipation is a common side effect occurring from a hysterectomy. It is easily corrected by using stool softeners and eating foods with fiber. Some women may require the use of a laxative after surgery to encourage her bowels to begin working properly again. Urinary retention (inability to void urine) is another common side effect from surgery. Medical staff will have already inserted a catheter before surgery to help the bladder to not become overly full. This problem will typically correct itself within 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

Injury To Other Organs

This side effect of a total hysterectomy is very rare but can still occur. The organs most likely to be injured are the bladder and uritures, the intestines, or even blood vessels. Your surgeon should be able to observe any injury during the initial surgery but if it is missed it may be necessary to undergo a second operation to correct the problem.

Menopause And The Inability To Become Pregnant

If the ovaries are also removed a woman will instantly go into menopause. The loss of her reproductive organs will make it impossible to conceive and carry an infant.

It is important to understand and to discuss thoroughly all of these side effects with your doctor before having a total hysterectomy. This is a life altering surgery and cannot be undone.

Additional Resources And Information

WebMD: What Is a Hysterectomy?

UpToDate: Patient Information: Abdominal Hysterectomy