A vaginal hysterectomy is a medical procedure involving the removal of the womb via the vagina. There are many reasons why the womb, also known as the uterus, may need to be removed. These include uterine cancer, excessively heavy menstrual bleeding, and endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that normally make up the womb lining begin to grow outside the uterus, often on the ovaries, causing pelvic pain that is especially bad during menstruation. Women who suffer with heavy or painful periods, for whom other treatments have been unsuccessful, may find that vaginal hysterectomy is the most effective solution for their ailments. A woman who has had a hysterectomy will no longer have periods or be able to become pregnant.
Hysterectomy has traditionally been carried out through a cut in the abdomen. However, this leads to scarring and carries an increased risk of damage to other organs during the surgery. Vaginal hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus via the natural opening of the vagina, is a much less invasive procedure that leaves no visible scars. The procedure lasts for only an hour and requires a hospital stay of only one or two days. The total recovery time following a vaginal hysterectomy is usually about four to six weeks. During this time, it is important not to do any heavy lifting as this can cause strain that could disrupt the healing process. Sex should be also be avoided for the six weeks following a vaginal hysterectomy. Most women are able to drive and return to work within two to four weeks of the surgery.
Although vaginal hysterectomy carries a much lower risk than abdominal hysterectomy, there are still risks attached to this procedure. It is normal to experience bruising and discomfort in the vaginal area following the procedure. These should disappear as the wound heals. In the meantime, over the counter medications such as ibuprofen can be taken to relieve the pain. However, there is also the risk of long-term complications such as vaginal prolapse, which will require further surgery to treat. Pelvic floor exercises may help to reduce the risk of prolapse following a vaginal hysterectomy. In addition, all surgery carries a risk of infection.
Other Possible Complications
In rare cases, there may be damage to other organs in the pelvic area, such as the bladder or bowel, which can lead to incontinence or frequent urination. If the ovaries were removed at the same time as the uterus, which is necessary in the treatment of some conditions, the body will go into menopause, which for many women causes symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness. Even if the ovaries are left in place, they may fail due to reduced blood supply, resulting in early menopause. Menopausal symptoms can be controlled by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In all cases, removal of the womb results in infertility.
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