What is vaginal hysterectomy?
Vaginal hysterectomy is an alternative surgical procedure to abdominal hysterectomy. In this procedure, the uterus is removed through the vagina rather than through the incision in the abdomen.
What are the advantages of the vaginal hysterectomy over abdominal hysterectomy? Recovery in vaginal hysterectomy is much faster than abdominal hysterectomy. You may be discharged from the hospital in a day or two and you can return to your daily activities within a few weeks after the surgery.
Who are the good candidates for vaginal hysterectomy?
Individuals with the following conditions and those who don’t have enlarged uterus are considered as eligible candidates for vaginal hysterectomy,
- Uterine prolapse: It is the protrusion of the uterus from the pelvic cavity into the vaginal canal due to weakening of the muscles and connective tissues that hold the uterus in place. It is often seen in women who had one or more vaginal births.
- Endometriosis: It is abnormal growth of endometrium, the membrane lining the uterus, on surfaces of other organs in the pelvis such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, pelvic cavity lining, vagina, cervix, vulva, bladder or rectum.
- Cervical dysplasia: It is the pre-malignant condition of the cells lining the cervix.
- Uterine fibroids: They are the non-cancerous growths in the uterus. If the fibroids are large, abdominal hysterectomy is required.
How is vaginal hysterectomy performed?
You may be given general or regional anesthesia. An incision is made in the vagina and the uterus is removed through it. The incision in the vagina is then closed with absorbable stitches.
What are the risks of the vaginal hysterectomy?
Vaginal hysterectomy is generally safe. Complications may include infection, blood loss, blood clot usually in the leg vein or damage to the nearby organs in the abdomen and pelvic region such as urinary bladder, ureter or bowel. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the chances of complications due to surgery.
What to expect after the vaginal hysterectomy?
You should be well enough to go home the same day after the procedure but may need an escort and responsible adult to monitor you for the first 12-24 hours after the procedure if you have general anesthesia. You may take over the counter pain killers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen if needed for mild cramps. Medicines are prescribed for pain and to prevent infection. Bleeding from the vagina is normal and will last for a few weeks after the surgery. Use of sanitary pads should be preferred as tampons increase the risk of infection. You will not have periods and cannot conceive after the vaginal hysterectomy. If ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed along with uterus in vaginal hysterectomy you may have vaginal dryness or hot flashes, the symptoms of menopause. These may be treated with medicines, if required. You will be able to do normal activities in around two weeks after the surgery, but should not lift heavy objects or have vaginal intercourse until the sixth week or till the complete healing occurs.
What if I come across any problem during the recovery period?
You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the below mentioned conditions:
- Offensive vaginal discharge or heavy bleeding
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Inability to empty your bladder or bowels
- Severe pain