Removal of the womb
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman's womb (uterus). It is estimated that, by the age of 55, one in five women will have had their womb removed. The hysterectomy operation is used to treat problems such as heavy periods, fibroids, prolapse of the uterus, endometriosis and cancer of the uterus, cervix or ovaries.
The most common type of hysterectomy is a complete or total hysterectomy where the cervix is removed as well as the uterus.
A partial hysterectomy removes the upper part of the uterus and leaves the cervix in place. A radical hysterectomy removes the uterus, part of the vagina, and the fallopian tubes.
Hysterectomies are carried out through a cut in the abdomen (abdominal hysterectomy) or the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy). Abdominal hysterectomies are more common than vaginal hysterectomies and usually require a longer recovery.