When a surgeon removes your uterus, other organs may shift to fill the space. Depending on the type of hysterectomy, you may have other reproductive organs removed as well.
No matter which type of hysterectomy you have, you’ll have more room in your abdomen after, because the space your uterus was taking up is now empty.
Your intestines will take up most of the space, but it’s important to understand what happens to the other nearby organs after a hysterectomy.
After a hysterectomy, your small and large intestines, which are the largest organs near your uterus, will move to fill most of the space that your uterus previously occupied.
There are a few types of hysterectomy. In total and radical hysterectomies, the cervix is removed along with the uterus, and potentially other reproductive organs.
If you have a partial hysterectomy, also known as a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy, your cervix is left in place. While the top of the cervix is no longer attached to anything, the bottom is still attached to your vagina.
A partial hysterectomy can be performed for many conditions that don’t affect the cervix, such as fibroids, endometriosis, and heavy uterine bleeding. It cannot be performed if you’ve had cancer in any of your reproductive organs or if you’ve ever had an abnormal Pap smear.
It’s important to get screened regularly, because you can still get cervical cancer if you have a partial hysterectomy. Talk with your doctor about how often you should have a Pap smear or other screening tests for cervical cancer.
Although you won’t menstruate after having a hysterectomy, you may still experience some bleeding during the time you would normally get your period, if you had a partial hysterectomy. This is because the cervix has some of the same cells that line the uterus, called endometrial cells.
Some people have their ovaries removed during a hysterectomy. Ovary removal is called an oophorectomy.
Whether you have your ovaries removed depends on the reason for your hysterectomy. For example, if you have ovarian cancer, your ovaries will be removed, but they likely won’t be removed if your hysterectomy is due to uterine fibroids.
However, if you’ve experienced menopause or are close to it, your doctor may suggest removing your ovaries no matter the underlying reason for your hysterectomy. This may help protect against future issues.
If you get your ovaries removed, your fallopian tubes will be removed as well. If your ovaries aren’t removed during your hysterectomy, they’ll stay in the same position after your surgery.
This is because, in addition to being attached to the uterus with ligaments, the ovaries attach to your abdomen with a ligament called the suspensory ligament, considered part of the broad ligament of the uterus. They’re also attached to your fallopian tubes.
If your ovaries are left in place after your hysterectomy, they’ll continue to function as usual. This means they’ll continue to release hormones and eggs, although you might have a slight decrease in hormone production.
In most cases, when your ovary releases an egg every month, the egg will go into your abdomen and eventually disappear.
If you haven’t reached menopause already, you won’t have your period after a hysterectomy, because your uterus isn’t there to shed its lining.
But, because your body is still producing hormones, you might still feel like you’re getting your period and have symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg implants in your fallopian tube, is possible after a hysterectomy. But it’s very rare.
If you’re considering a hysterectomy, there are a lot of things to think through. Your doctor can guide you through the process, but here are some things you should also consider:
- Your sex drive may be lower or higher after a hysterectomy. Although some people experience problems with sex after a hysterectomy, others report that they enjoy sex more. This is because many conditions that may require a hysterectomy, like endometriosis, can cause pain and sexual dysfunction. This can then improve after a hysterectomy.
- Some people experience less sexual sensation after a hysterectomy. This may mean vaginal dryness, less intense orgasms, and reduced feeling during sex. Vaginal dryness is typically associated with an oophorectomy, rather than a hysterectomy alone.
- If you’re premenopausal and your ovaries are removed, you’ll go into menopause after surgery. Though, hormone replacement therapy is often given in this case. Ovary removal may increase your risk for bone loss, urinary incontinence, and heart disease.
- If you don’t have your ovaries removed, you may still go into menopause a few years earlier than average, because your hormone production will decrease.
After any type of hysterectomy, your small and large intestines will fill most of the space your uterus previously occupied.
What happens to your other organs depends on a variety of factors, including if your uterus was enlarged, how enlarged it was, and what type of hysterectomy you get.
If you have concerns about what will happen to other reproductive organs after a hysterectomy, talk with a medical professional. They can guide you through your options and the hysterectomy process.