Decision Assist



The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether to have a hysterectomy. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor may be valuable. Surgery always carries risks, and you should be fully informed about the risks and benefits of this type of surgery. You should also be aware that research evidence is often limited, and the risks of surgery may not be completely understood. For this type of surgery, there is usually no exact right or wrong answer.

Your physician may make certain recommendations to you. However, the final decision about whether to have the surgery rests with you.

What is the surgery?

A hysterectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your uterus.


The uterus may be completely or partially removed:

Click the icon to see an illustration detailing hysterectomy.

There are several ways to do the surgery:

Hysterectomy - series
Click the icon to see an illustrated series showing hysterectomy surgery.

Hysterectomy is a common operation. It is used to treat fibroids, cancer, endometriosis, chronic vaginal bleeding, and childbirth complications. However, there are often non-surgical approaches to treat certain causes of pelvic pain or bleeding. Talk to your doctor about non-surgical treatments to try first, especially if your condition is something other than cancer.

Key points

A hysterectomy can:

However, be aware that:

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide

Review Date: 9/19/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

  • Hartmann KE. Quality of life and sexual function after hysterectomy in women with preoperative pain and depression. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2004;104:701–9.
  • Learman LA, Summitt RL Jr, Varner RE, et al. Hysterectomy versus expanded medical treatment for abnormal uterine bleeding: clinical outcomes in the medicine or surgery trial. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2004;103(5 Pt 1):824-33.
  • Kuppermann M, Varner RE, Summitt RL Jr, et al. Effect of hysterectomy vs medical treatment on health-related quality of life and sexual functioning: the medicine or surgery (Ms) randomized trial. JAMA. 2004;291(12):1447-55.
  • Rhodes JC, et. al. Hysterectomy and sexual functioning. JAMA. 1999;282:1934-1941.
  • Roovers J, et. al. Hysterectomy and sexual wellbeing: prospective observational study of vaginal hysterectomy, subtotal abdominal hysterectomy and total abdominal hysterectomy. British Medical Journal. 2003 327:774-778.
  • Rowe MK, Kanouse DE, Mittman BS, Bernstein SJ. Quality of life among women undergoing hysterectomies. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 1999;93(6):915-21.
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