Why do women have hysterectomies?

Hysterectomy is used to treat:

  • Fibroids. More hysterectomies are done because of fibroids than any other problem of the uterus. For many women with fibroids, symptoms are minimal and require no treatment. Also, the fibroids often shrink after menopause. But fibroids can cause heavy bleeding or pain in some women.  See our article on Fibroids.
  • Endometriosis. This happens when the tissue lining the inside of your uterus grows outside the uterus on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other pelvic or abdominal organs. When medication and surgery do not cure endometriosis, a hysterectomy can be performed.  See our article on Endometriosis.
  • Uterine prolapse. This is when the uterus moves from its usual place down into the vagina. This can lead to urinary problems, pelvic pressure, or difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Cancer. If you have cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovary, a hysterectomy may be part of the treatment your doctor recommends.
  • Persistent vaginal bleeding. If your periods are heavy, not regular, or last for many days each cycle and nonsurgical methods have not helped to control bleeding, a hysterectomy may bring relief.
  • Chronic pelvic pain. Surgery is a last resort for women who have chronic pelvic pain that clearly comes from the uterus. However, many forms of pelvic pain aren't cured by a hysterectomy, and so this approach can be controversial.