What to expect before a hysterectomy

You will usually have some tests a few days or weeks before your operation at a pre-assessment clinic. These usually include blood and urine tests and a blood pressure check. Some women may also have a chest x-ray, an electrocardiogram or ECG (heart tracing), or a heart scan (echocardiogram). The doctor or nurse will explain more about your operation and any tests you need to have.

Some hospitals follow an enhanced recovery programme to speed up your recovery and reduce the time you spend in hospital. You will usually be given information about diet and exercise before surgery, and any arrangements needed for you to go home will be made. You will be given some special drinks to take before surgery to help prepare your body. After surgery, you will be encouraged to move around as soon as possible and to start eating and drinking. Your doctor or specialist nurse will tell you if enhanced recovery is suitable for you. Not all hospitals use it.

If you smoke, try to give up or cut down before your operation. This helps reduce your risk of developing chest problems and will help your wound to heal after the operation. Your family doctor (GP) can give you advice. You may also find it helpful to read our information on giving up smoking.

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for several hours before your operation. You usually go into hospital on the day of your operation or the day before. A doctor will explain more about your operation and ask you to sign a consent form. You will also see an anaesthetist before your operation. A nurse may shave some of your pubic hair in the area where your operation will be. This is to try and prevent any possible infection.

Fertility

Being told that you have cancer and that treatment will make you permanently infertile can be very difficult. You may be single or already have children, or may not have thought about becoming a mother before. Whatever your situation, the loss of fertility can be overwhelming.

Women can ask to be referred to a fertility specialist before their hysterectomy. Women who have a partner and are interested in surrogacy (another woman carrying a child in her womb for you) may want to store embryos (fertilised eggs).

Due to the immediate need for surgery and the wait to see an infertility specialist on the NHS, some women may have their eggs collected privately before their operation. Some women may also want to consider adoption in the future.

Fertility Friends is a web-based information and support community. Message boards allow you to ask a nurse questions, and you can chat with other people affected by infertility. We have more information on cancer and fertility.

Back to Hysterectomy

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s womb (uterus) and sometimes other parts of a woman’s reproductive system.