Overview of Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is a surgical operation to remove the uterus (womb). It may also include removing other parts of the female reproductive system such as the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Following hysterectomy, menstruation (menstrual periods) stops and the woman is no longer able to have a baby. In women who have not reached menopause, removal of the ovaries causes early menopause.

Hysterectomy Incidence and Prevalence

Hysterectomy is the second-most-common abdominal surgery among women in the United States. Over 600,000 hysterectomies are performed every year, and one in three women has a hysterectomy by the age of 60. The United States has the highest hysterectomy rate in the world.

About 90 percent of the hysterectomies performed each year are classified as "elective" surgery (i.e., surgery done by choice and not as a lifesaving measure). Women and doctors are beginning to question whether hysterectomy is the best solution to many gynecologic conditions, and are seeking alternatives that avoid the drastic and irreversible consequences of the procedure. As these alternative therapies are developed and explored, the number of hysterectomies performed is beginning to decline.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 10 Jun 2001

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015