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A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your uterus. There are many reasons for having a hysterectomy. For example, certain health conditions and diseases, persistent pelvic pain and cancer. If you have a hysterectomy, you will not be able to carry a pregnancy in the future.

Learn more about how a hysterectomy is performed, and the risks and benefits of this procedure.

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What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove your uterus. There are two types of hysterectomies.

Total hysterectomy

Removal of your uterus and cervix. Often your fallopian tubes are removed at the same time, as this reduces the chance of ovarian cancer by 60%.

Subtotal hysterectomy

Removal of your uterus without the cervix. Often your fallopian tubes are removed at the same time. This procedure may be done to help manage pelvic organ prolapse.

Your doctor will usually recommend your fallopian tubes are removed and your ovaries are left behind as this may benefit your heart and bone health up until the age of 64 – long after menopause.

The below picture shows the female reproductive organs.

Diagram of female reproductive system

Reasons for having a hysterectomy

Your doctor might recommend you have a hysterectomy for different reasons. For example, if you have:

  • a condition that causes heavy bleeding (e.g. fibroids)
  • a condition that causes severe pain and discomfort (e.g. adenomyosis or endometriosis)
  • a prolapse (weakness of the tissues supporting your uterus and vaginal walls)
  • persistent pelvic pain due to infection or certain health conditions
  • chronic pelvic inflammatory disease, sometimes caused by infection in your fallopian tubes and pelvis
  • cancer or precancerous conditions of your cervix, uterus, ovaries or fallopian tubes.

A hysterectomy is an irreversible procedure. There are many things to consider such as your plans to have children and the severity of your symptoms. You can ask your doctor about different options and the benefits and risks of each. If you are still unsure, you can talk to a specialist or get a second opinion.

Do you need a doctor’s referral?

You will need a doctor’s referral for a gynaecologist who can perform the hysterectomy.

How is a hysterectomy performed?

There are different ways to perform a hysterectomy, depending on the reason for the procedure, your medical history and general health.

For example:

  • laparoscopic – keyhole surgery performed through small cuts in your abdomen, using a tube with camera (laparoscope)
  • vaginal – surgery performed through your vagina
  • abdominal – surgery performed through a cut in your lower abdomen.

Hysterectomies are usually performed under general anaesthetic.

Risks of having a hysterectomy

As with any operation, there are some risks associated with having a hysterectomy. For example, you might:

  • have blood loss and need a blood transfusion
  • get an infection
  • have blood clots
  • have a reaction to anaesthesia
  • have a damaged bladder or bowel, as it is an abdominal operation.

Compared to abdominal hysterectomy, vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies have lower risks of blood loss and infection.

Your specialist will explain the risks in more detail.


Studies suggest that many women have improved symptoms, mood and quality of life after recovering from a hysterectomy.

It may take up to four weeks to recover fully after vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy and up to six weeks after abdominal hysterectomy. But it can take longer for some women, depending on their individual situation (e.g. complications during surgery or emotional adjustment).

Visit the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) website to learn more about recovering from a hysterectomy.

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at April 2023.

This con­tent has been reviewed by a group of med­ical sub­ject mat­ter experts, in accor­dance with Jean Hailes pol­i­cy.

Opportunistic Salpingectomy as a Strategy for Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Prevention.
Dietl J et al. The post-reproductive Fallopian tube: better removed. Hum Reprod. 2011 Nov;26(11):2918-24. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der274. Epub 2011 Aug 16
Committee Opinion No 701: Choosing the Route of Hysterectomy for Benign Disease. Committee on Gynecologic Practice Obstet Gynecol. 2017;129(6):e155
Radosa JC, Meyberg-Solomayer G et al. Influences of different hysterectomy techniques on patients’ postoperative sexual function and quality of life. J Sex Med 2014 Sep; 11(9):2342-50
Kjerulff KH, Langenberg PW, Rhodes JC, et al. Effectiveness of hysterectomy. Obstet Gynecol 2000; 95:319
Last updated: 
07 December 2023
Last reviewed: 
14 April 2023

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