top of page

The Comprehensive Guide to Hysterectomies: What Women Need to Know

A hysterectomy is a significant medical procedure that involves the removal of a woman's uterus. It can be a necessary treatment for various health conditions, but it is essential to understand the types of hysterectomies, what to expect before and after the surgery, and the questions to ask your doctor. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview for women considering or preparing for a hysterectomy, enriched with insights from experts Dr. Zoe Rodriguez and Dr. Jocelyn Wallace.

The Comprehensive Guide to Hysterectomies: What Women Need to Know by Fempower Health

Understanding the Types of Hysterectomies

There are several types of hysterectomies, each varying in the extent of the surgery and the organs removed. Understanding these differences is crucial in discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider.

  1. Total Hysterectomy: This is the most common type of hysterectomy, involving the removal of the entire uterus and cervix.

  2. Partial or Subtotal Hysterectomy: In this procedure, only the upper part of the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix intact.

  3. Radical Hysterectomy: This extensive surgery involves the removal of the uterus, cervix, part of the vagina, and surrounding tissues. It is typically performed when cancer is present.

  4. Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy: Often performed alongside a hysterectomy, this procedure involves the removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes.

  5. Laparoscopic Hysterectomy: A minimally invasive surgery using small incisions and a camera to assist in the removal of the uterus.

Dr. Zoe Rodriguez explains, "The type of hysterectomy recommended depends on the patient's specific condition and overall health. It's important to discuss all options and their implications thoroughly with your doctor."

Preparing for a Hysterectomy

Preparation is key to ensuring a smooth surgical experience and recovery. Here are some essential steps to take before your surgery:

  1. Medical Evaluation: Your doctor will perform a thorough medical evaluation, including blood tests, imaging studies, and a physical exam, to ensure you are in good health for the surgery.

  2. Medication Management: Discuss all medications you are currently taking with your doctor. You may need to stop certain medications, such as blood thinners, before surgery.

  3. Lifestyle Adjustments: Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking can improve your recovery outcomes.

  4. Preoperative Instructions: Follow any specific instructions from your surgeon, such as fasting before the procedure or bowel preparation. You can ask to record the conversation or even bring a loved one to the appointment to ensure all the important details are captured.

Dr. Jocelyn Wallace advises, "Being well-prepared and understanding the procedure can significantly reduce anxiety and improve recovery. Make sure to follow your doctor's instructions closely."

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Having a list of questions ready can help you make informed decisions and feel more confident about your surgery. Here are some important questions to consider:

  1. What type of hysterectomy do you recommend and why?

  2. What are the risks and benefits of this surgery?

  3. What can I expect during the recovery period?

  4. How long will I need to stay in the hospital?

  5. Will I need hormone replacement therapy if my ovaries are removed?

  6. How will this surgery affect my fertility and sexual function?

  7. What are the potential complications and how are they managed?

  8. Can you provide any patient resources or support groups?

  9. What types of symptoms are important to watch out for and mention to my doctor - both soon after the procedure and as the years progress?

Dr. Rodriguez emphasizes, "It's crucial for patients to understand not just the surgical procedure but also the long-term implications. Ask about everything from recovery time to potential changes in hormonal balance."

What to Expect After a Hysterectomy

Understanding the recovery process can help you prepare mentally and physically for life after a hysterectomy. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Hospital Stay: The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of hysterectomy performed. Minimally invasive surgeries typically require shorter stays compared to open surgeries.

  2. Pain Management: Pain and discomfort are common after surgery. Your doctor will prescribe medications to help manage this during your recovery.

  3. Activity Restrictions: You will need to avoid heavy lifting, strenuous activities, and sexual intercourse for several weeks. Gradually increasing your activity level as advised by your doctor is important.

  4. Emotional Well-being: It is normal to experience a range of emotions after a hysterectomy. Seek support from friends, family, or a counselor if needed.

  5. Follow-up Appointments: Regular follow-up appointments with your doctor are essential to monitor your healing and address any concerns.

Dr. Wallace notes, "Postoperative care is just as important as the surgery itself. Patients should be aware of the potential for emotional fluctuations and seek support when needed."

Recovery Tips
  1. Rest and Relaxation: Allow yourself ample time to rest and recover. Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.

  2. Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can aid in your recovery.

  3. Hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and support your body's healing processes.

  4. Gentle Exercise: Engage in light activities such as walking to promote circulation and prevent complications like blood clots. While most are "cleared" after 6 weeks, you may need more time. Be sure to talk to your doctor about this.

  5. Follow Medical Advice: Adhere to all post-operative instructions provided by your healthcare team.

Potential Complications

While most hysterectomies are performed without serious issues, it is important to be aware of potential complications:

  1. Infection: Signs of infection include fever, increased pain, redness, or discharge at the incision site.

  2. Bleeding: Significant bleeding may require medical intervention.

  3. Blood Clots: Symptoms of blood clots include swelling, redness, or pain in the legs.

  4. Bladder or Bowel Injuries: Rarely, nearby organs such as the bladder or bowel may be injured during surgery.

  5. Hormonal Changes: Removal of the ovaries can lead to menopause symptoms and may require hormone replacement therapy.

Dr. Rodriguez highlights, "Patients should be vigilant for any signs of complications and contact their healthcare provider immediately if they experience any unusual symptoms."

Long-Term Considerations
  1. Hormone Replacement Therapy: If your ovaries are removed, discuss the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy with your doctor.

  2. Bone Health: Estrogen plays a key role in bone health. Ensure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and consider bone density screenings if recommended.

  3. Regular Health Check-ups: Continue regular visits to your healthcare provider to monitor your overall health and address any new concerns.

Dr. Wallace adds, "Long-term health management is crucial. Regular check-ups and a proactive approach to health can help mitigate any potential issues arising from the surgery."


A hysterectomy is a major surgery with significant physical and emotional implications. By understanding the types of hysterectomies, preparing adequately, asking the right questions, and knowing what to expect during recovery, you can navigate this journey with confidence and informed decision-making. Always work closely with your healthcare team to ensure the best possible outcomes for your health and well-being.

For more information, support, and resources, consider joining support groups or seeking guidance from healthcare professionals specializing in women's health. Your journey through a hysterectomy can be smoother with the right knowledge and support.

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2020). Hysterectomy. Retrieved from ACOG

  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Hysterectomy. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic

  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2022). Hysterectomy. Retrieved from NIH

  4. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Hysterectomy: Purpose, Procedure, and Risks. Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic

  5. WebMD. (2021). Hysterectomy. Retrieved from WebMD

  6. Interview with Dr Zoe Rodriguez Life Before and After Hysterectomy

  7. Interview with Dr Jocelyn Wallace Pelvic Floor After Hysterectomy


If you want to support this women’s health podcast, leave a review for Fempower Health on iTunes or Spotify.

Spread the awareness and share this episode with someone you know!

Support and connect with Fempower Health's women’s health community:


The information shared by Fempower Health is not medical advice but for informational purposes to enable you to have more effective conversations with your doctor.  Always talk to your doctor before making health-related decisions. Additionally, the views expressed by the Fempower Health podcast guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent.


bottom of page