Complete Hysterectomy Not the Same as a Total Hysterectomy

July 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Hysterectomy

A complete hysterectomy is not the same procedure as a total hysterectomy, although many people use the terms interchangeably. The uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed during a complete hysterectomy. Only the uterus and the cervix are taken out in a total hysterectomy. When speaking with her doctor a woman should take care that they are using the same terms when discussing potential surgery.

Most women face the challenge of a complete hysterectomy in response to a severe diagnosis. Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer are two of the diseases for which a complete hysterectomy may be prescribed. However, large uterine and/or ovarian fibroid tumors may also necessitate the procedure. A complete hysterectomy might also be required in cases of chronic endometriosis which has migrated to other organs or which has caused adhesions. Because a complete hysterectomy causes the immediate onset of surgical menopause, it is important that a woman be fully aware of the side effects which will ensue. In circumstances where a malignancy may be involved there is generally no other medically accepted option other than a complete hysterectomy. In fact, the operation should probably be pursued with alacrity since untreated cancer of the reproductive organs can spread quickly.

A woman who has been fully informed about what to expect after a complete hysterectomy will find that her post operative recovery period will proceed much more quickly. She will also be able to decide prior to her operation what cause of therapy she may want to pursue after her operation. Therefore, a woman should not be afraid of taking the initiative to do personal research about the complete hysterectomy procedure. In addition, she should also not shy aware from asking her doctor any and all questions which she may have.

Any hysterectomy ends a woman’s ability to bear a child. After a complete hysterectomy a woman will begin to experience the symptoms associated with menopause: Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual response and/or sexual desire. A menopausal woman may also become depressed and she is at greater risk for developing osteoporosis. When menopause occurs suddenly due to a complete hysterectomy these symptoms may hit a woman with greater ferocity.

While these indications are certainly distressing they should not prevent a woman from having an operation which she and her doctor have decided must be done. All women eventually face menopause and there are treatments which can lessen the problems it creates. The symptoms of menopause also fade with time. After a complete hysterectomy a woman may want to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In recent years, however, HRT has come under increasing fire for having risks that outweigh its benefits. For that reason a woman may want to discuss other approaches to relieving any signs of menopause. Alternative therapies include vitamins, herbs, exercise and changes in diet. Meditation and aromatherapy are also helpful for many women.

Undergoing a complete hysterectomy will change a woman’s life. If the condition for which it is being considered is not life threatening a woman may want to consider trying other, less invasive treatments first. Still, the maladies brought on by a complete hysterectomy can be treated. A woman who needs a complete hysterectomy should not allow fear of menopause alone dissuade her.

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30 Responses to “Complete Hysterectomy Not the Same as a Total Hysterectomy”
  1. laura says:

    i took protrium years after complete hysterectomy.. felt out of wak. so i took it for three months. now i cant hardly get up. my hips hurt very bad. is this part of taking prometrium. (100mg 14 days each month) will this go away now that i stopped taking it. dr said i didnt need to take them. did i do harm or will this pain go away? please i hope so. i can hardly get up each day

  2. B.V. says:

    I just had a complete hysterectomy one week ago today. The uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed. I spoke to several women that had the same surgery and they did not need to take hormones and I don’t plan to take them either, in fact, my doctor didn’t even ask me. My surgery went well, I’m home recoverying mostly resting and walking a little around the house. I just had the staples removed today and it was painless. I feel good so far and in fact I noticed my skin feels smoother. Also those women that I spoke to said they have more energy and felt great after they recovered.

  3. H.M. says:

    I’m seriously considering a complete hysterectomy. My doctor has agreed due to family medical history, my frequent migraines due to hormones as well as a recent exam that may be cysts…still waiting on the biopsy results. No hormone replacement will be necessary because that is one of the reasons for having this proceedure, to avoid hormonal migraines, but I am concerned.

    I’m just now able to have sex again after having major back surgery three and a half months ago and regaining pelvic sensation. How long is the recovery time for a complete hysterectomy and what about a woman’s sex drive…does that eventually return as well?

  4. Carrie says:

    My mom had her hysterectomy 7 years ago and still can’t get her hormones balanced. She’s been to many doctors in Michigan nobody has helped. She’s now back on the hormone replacement that causes cancer made from horse urine. Please help!

  5. tara says:

    I am curious how you ladies are doing now. I just found out today I need to have a full hysterectomy, and I am scared :-(

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  7. susan says:

    Many women I have spoken to have told me they were not told that after a hysterectomy a woman’s orgasm is not as long lasting or good as uterine contraction enables these sensations, without a uterus orgasms are shorter and not as good.. Please be up front about this. Women need to know the truth!

  8. BS says:

    I just had a complete hysterectomy a week ago also. I had my first follow up visit with the doctor today. He has prescribed Estradiol 2 mg tablets as my HRT. I had the prescription filled today but am having second thoughts. I am not sure about taking hormone therapy. I have been reading the side effects and am a little hesitant, however I also do not want to have the side effects of no hormones. I am just not sure what to do. Do you have any advice?

  9. Christie says:

    I had a complete hysterectomy (with uterus, tubes, ovaries, and cervix all removed) about 17 years ago when I was 31 yrs old. My OB/GYN at the time started me on a hormone replacement therapy to help with the hot flashes and mood swings that started almost immediately after surgery. It helped. A little.

    I changed doctors when I moved and the new doctor saw my medication list and would not refill my hormone replacement pill. She said it was “malpractice” for any doctor to fill that hormone replacement prescription because of all the potentially dangerous side effects long term.

    So I stopped. Haven’t had it in about 15 yrs now and for the most part, I don’t miss it. I have “some” hot flashes today – but its nothing like what it was like right after the Hysterectomy.

    Good luck to anyone considering these procedures. It is very tough and you must have some help to get through this. After the first year, my mindset was better… but that whole year… wow.. I thought I was going crazy at times.

  10. Irene Hill says:

    I have had a full hysterectomy five years ago. Since having that I have always been dry with no discharge whatsoever. However, just recently I have been to have some slight discharge. Should I be worried about this? Can anyone advise me please

  11. Nikki says:

    Had complete hysterectomy 9 weeks ago. No HRT, no menopausal symptoms
    other that a few facial breakouts. Have attempted intercourse twice
    since given the “all-clear” at 6 weeks. Extremely painful still-
    may be due to the fact that I still have 2 stitches that have not
    dissolved? Now having pelvic pain?

  12. Monica says:

    Thank you B.V. I will be having a complete hysterectomy in June. My doctor said he didn’t want me to take hormones if I could get through what i might feeling any other way. I have been reading a lot on line stuff. I have friends who have had hysterectomies but none of them have had a complete hysterectomy. I feel very good about everything and now I feel good about not taking hormones.

  13. LARRAINE says:

    Having my total on June 27th due to breast cancer just had a dbl mastectomy and I have the BRCA 2 gene. I pray for a fast recovery, more energy and all the good stuff, most of all NO more periods…

  14. I had a complete hysterectomy in 1975 and was immediately placed on HRT (Premarin). Over the years I have done extensive research on the risks of taking Premarin for an extended period of time. What I have found is that there has not been even one study done which followed women who have had a complete hysterectomy. Every study that I have found involved only women who have had partial hysterectomies done; i.e., they are still producing some hormones in this area themselves. On the other hand, women who had complete hysterectomies produce no hormones in this area. I have had no ill effects from taking Premarin for 36 years. My DEXAs (bone density exams) always indicate no evidence of osteoporosis or any other of the so-called risks associated with taking Premarin. Personally, I would recommend hormone replacement therapy to any woman having a complete hysterectomy.

  15. MarieM says:

    I’m 54, I was having perimenopausal symptoms which were tolerable. I had a complete hysterectomy January 2011. I felt great at first, I was happy to be rid of the constant pain and heavy bleeding from fibroids. It is now July 2011 and I feel like I’m about to loose my mind at times. I am so agitated, aggresive, mooody,can’t sleep, I feel depressed most days, no energy, my sex drive is from low to none. (Not good considering I’ve only been married two years; my poor husband)I mentioned these things to my gynecologist and he suggested a HRT, but my family physician advised against it. I’ve had two episodes of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms following knee replacement surgery. I am at my wits end. I don’t know what to do, but I know I can’t go on like this. I might hurt someone, just kidding.. but I do feel extremely out of control at times. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. It’s like being in Arizona in August all the time..HELP

  16. April says:

    I will be having a complete hysterectomy on july 25th and I am so scared. I just turned 31 and really dont know what to expect. Can anyone help me?

  17. carolyn says:

    I was in my early 40′s when I had my complete hysterectomy. It has only been almost a few years. I had more than one opinion; and 2 top surgeons. They both agreed that I could never take anything to help me. NO HORMONE THERAPY OF ANY KIND! They were right from what I have later realized. I would have become worse off and sicker eventually. I do think sometimes though that when one has a complete hysterectomy it speeds up the aging process. I don’t know if it is true, but I think it does. That’s why I think the Osteop… comes on sooner obviously. I think that in SOME women it causes increase blood pressure if they are borderline at weight risk. I know alot of women that have had a complete hysterectomy and most do not have hi blood pressure, but some do. I don’t like the way my skin feels at times on my legs but I do like the way my arms feel. The hot flashes and emotional roller coaster (mood swings) are a nightmare to deal with; but to me it is better than taking another man made drug. I know that it will end one day. As far as intimate relations are concerned their are healthy options to help with that and maybe make the experience more enhanced.
    There are alternatives that help that we are not able to have access to, sadly.
    Yes, having a complete hysterectomy will immediately change your life. I don’t think that they tell us everything because maybe it will scares us into not having the surgery and they know it may be fatal not to. I don’t know. But if it is a life or death situation, normally there is nothing else to consider, except life.

    If you are on blood pressure medicine take the medication until a doctor says that you don’t need it anymore.

    There are so many natural and organice options that can help us; but unfortunately they keep that option from us; but not in other countries.

  18. Dawn says:

    June 2011, I had a complete H with bladder sling at the same time. recover was a little more than I expected but doable and I managed. However, a little over 8 weeks later, after the surgical healing as subsided, my hormones have Flipped out! I am in full anxiety mode, with heart palpitations, hot flashes, sweats, and my hair is falling out…
    My primary doctors dont know what to do with me. they suggest antidepression pills, but I don’t want to take them. they just want to keep throwing drugs at me. I would rather look into natural hormone replacement (not synthetic) Does anyone have information

  19. gina says:

    i had a whole complete everything removed hysterectomy appx 5 years ago and other than the hot flashes,im good…for the one that said she cant get an orgasm, cant help u with that.. but that is not true.. as a matter of fact i have not thought about a period in forever and life could not be better. as far as sex no problem… and BS ive been on Estradiol 2 mg tablets for 5 years now not problem.. however i dont take them in the winter. i just dont use the heat. but in the summer some one may die without my hrt rplcmnt…

  20. I am 23 yrs old, I had a complete hysterectomy June 4th 2010, and my recovery time was fast, was supposed to be off work for 2months, instead 2wks into it I begged my dr to allow me to go back to work ( which i walked/ran about 20-30 miles a day )I was back at work, swimming, driving, was able to have sexual intercourse all within the first wk 1/2 to 2 wks. I wwas not put on any kind of hormone replacments, and to this day the only side effect I have from this procedure is hot flashes, which are horrible when your already a hot natured person.

  21. Gail says:

    I had a complete hysterectomy in August 2010. I would not recommend it to anyone unless it is a matter of life or death. Speak with your doctor and try to find alternatives if necessary. I suffered for weeks after my surgery. Nausea, violent vomiting, pain. I had a blood clot which caused me not to be able to go on HRT. Here we are in Oct 2011 and I feel like I am going crazy. My husband has been ill for almost three years and even he is sick and tired of it. He tells me I use my hysterectomy as an excuse. I have horrible moods swings, I have facial hair that is coarse,black, it has caused ingrown hairs, it is embarrasing and no matter what I have tried isn’t helping. My face is breaking out and they are like acne on steroids,no matter what I do they leave scars, and they take forever to go away.My body is awful, it has taken on a different shape. I cannot lose weight. I joined weight watchers and week after week it was the same few pounds (water weight)I eat healthy, I do my best to exercise but when you are doing all the right things, it discourages you. Depression, fatigue is my daily life. I was told I have Osteopenia, I have damage to my cervical spine (neck) I don’t know if that has a connection.I don’t sleep very well and when I do get some, I wake up exhausted. I am at my wits end with no answers and no hope. I wish Dr’s would tell women everything they can expect because had my DR taken the time to do that, I would live with the heavy bleeding than all the rest of crap I am dealing with.

  22. Karen F says:

    MarieM: I am 51 was also perimenopausal but found a large cyst on my ovary…had a complete abdominal hysterectomy July 7, 2011…just like you felt well in the beginning. Now I feel the same as you do, all the symptoms. Family history makes me not want to do HRT, but as you, I am at wits end…I am trying some herbal and vitamin remedies, 2 weeks in so far. I will let you know if and when they start to help. I have been married 29 years this coming May will be 30 if my husband sticks it out with me…LOL I can relate! Go on the internet and search out some remedies that might work for your symptoms. I am hoping a praying the ones I chose will work for me..Good Luck to all..
    Karen F´s last [type] ..After a hysterectomy, what?

  23. Crystal says:

    I am having a complete hysterectomy on December 1, 2011 and I am excited yet scared! I am only 29 and I don’t wanna go through menopause and I don’t wanna have NO SEX DRIVE! Any advice? I have to get the surgery cauz I have Endometrial Cancer so what can I do to make this situation easier?

  24. Emily says:

    I just had a complete hysterectomy on 12/28/11 (I’m 41). It’s not been a week yet. My doctor said there was “nothing to do” about HRT right away. Still waiting for the post op visit. I am doing alright with recovery. Moving around the house well and even ventured a few small shopping trips. I haven’t decided what I will do about hormone replacement. I can’t tell if I’m having hot flashes but I do feel rushes of something unpleasant often throughout the day. It’s not heat exactly but kind of a lighheadedness/shortness of breath unsteady feeling. Weird. Was hoping someone else mentioned it. Have also come uncorked on my kiddos a few times but it’s nothing worse than the worst PMS. My hysterectomy was for severe endometriosis, adhesions, lots of pain with my cycle. I’m looking forward to recovery so I don’t have to deal with that anymore. Still waiting to see what the instant menopause has in store though. My procedure was laprascopic and the surgeon seems to have done an outstanding job. I highly recommend this way if it’s available to you.

  25. Lori says:

    I had a complete hysterectomy in 1997 and was immediately placed on the highest dosage for the first 6 months on HRT (Primarin). Afterwards my doctor recommended the lower dosage and was on it for 10 years. Since then my doctor recommended the lowest dosage and still taking them without any side effects. Thanks Barbara C for sharing your story. You even made me feel more better knowing that someone out there has taken HRT longer than I do and without any ill effects. I would also recommend HRT to any woman having a complete hysterectomy.

  26. Hi I had a full hysterectomy n I was told I cant getter preagnt I had every thing taking out n I am on estradiol 2mg n I am taking synthroid to I don’t kn if I can gett preagnet again

  27. jj says:

    I am 65 years old. I had a complete hysterectomy when I was about 40. I had my choice. I asked the doc if he left behind ovaries would I still have the horrible mood swings and extreme ovulation pain. He said I would. “Take it all, then” I told him. “Just get it out of there.” He did. I was put on premarin and stayed on it about 20 years. I never experience any of the problems mentioned here, and elsewhere. My sex drive and satisfaction, in fact, was off the charts — just as it had always been. Dryness, yes, a little, but not much. And there are ways to take care of that, some not at all unpleasant — if you know what I mean. I have been tested regularly for osteoporosis/bone density and no problems. In fact, my last one, the doctor said I had bone density of a 30 year old. Depression? Come on, your monthly cycle is filled with depression — at least mine was — depression and rage. It was wonderful to not have that rage any longer. In fact, during a psych eval for a job, I was asked if I had wide mood swings. The doc about fell off his chair laughing when I told him “Well, not sense the hysterectomy.” I passed the eval and got the job by the way. So I don’t know. I’m one person. For me, it was the best day of my life when I had my hysterectomy. Sometimes, I think if you tell people scare stories enough, they become self-fulfilling prophesies.

  28. Sara says:

    I had a complete hysterectomy 7 weeks ago. Before I had surgery my doctor signed me up for a patient information site. The whole procedure was clearly explained and relieved some of my fears. Lets get real,your belly is going to hurt. I was treated for pain in the recovery romm,and don,t recall a lot of what happened the first few hour after surgery. I was on pain meds for a while and needed less as every day passed.You will need help at home.It is a good idea to get a shower chair and a raised toilet seat.I opted out of hormone replacement therapy as I am nearly 58 and passed menopause. I followed doctors orders to a T,and am feeling stronger every day. I will be back walking trails and hitting the gym by my birthday which is a month away.

  29. A mom of 5 says:

    Ive had a total hystrectomy in 2001 I was 25 then just,on march8,2012 I had my ovaries, fallopian tubes, removed. So im about to start hormone injections at home dont wanna get any blood clots the hospital gave me a shot at of hormones so I shouod be good for one month it wasnt soo bad the surgery it just hurts when u get up and down u dont realize how much stomach muscles you use just take it easy and youll be ok when u cough or sneeze hold a pillow on your tummy take stool softeners dont strain gradually work your way up to eating solids hooe this helps. Its scarry but u will all be fine.

  30. Anna Hooks says:

    I had a complete hysterectomy in 2004 at age 42. I had numerous ovarian cysts and endometriosis. Also, my mother had died of ovarian cancer at 48. My doctor initially prescribed 2 mg of estrogen a day. I have found that splitting the dosage to 1mg taken in the morning and 1mg at night suits me best. I have gone on “estrogen vacations”, and, I definitely feel the difference within a week or so. I plan to continue with the estrogen.

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