Hysterectomy is a term that many women misunderstand and fear, yet it is one of the most common surgical procedures performed. Before a hysterectomy, a woman should be thoroughly investigated by blood tests, ultrasound examinations, and possibly x-rays and laparoscopy, to determine if there is any method of relieving her symptoms other than removal of the uterus.
The operation derives its name from a period over 150 years ago when it was thought that the uterus was a source of mental disturbance and caused hysteria in women. A hysterectomy was a very radical cure.
The female sexual organs consist of four main parts – the vagina which is used in intercourse, the womb (uterus) and its opening into the vagina called the cervix, the Fallopian tubes that transport the egg from the ovaries to the womb, and the two ovaries. It is only the uterus, tubes and one ovary that are removed from most women in a hysterectomy. Both ovaries and/or the vagina may be removed if the operation is for cancer.