When something goes wrong in a woman’s reproductive system, it may be necessary to surgically remove her main reproductive organs. The surgery is called a hysterectomy.
The Female Reproductive System
A woman’s reproductive organs are all located inside the pelvis or lower abdomen. This system consists of five major organs:
• Vagina – The vagina is the hollow “tube” that reaches from outside a woman’s body into the uterus. It is sometimes called the birth canal because a baby leaves its mother’s body through the vagina.
• Cervix – The cervix is the bottom part of the uterus that connects the uterus to the vagina. The cervix is normally no wider than a straw, but expands during birth.
• Ovaries – The ovaries are two oval-shaped organs that are located on either side of the uterus in the abdomen. The ovaries contain eggs that can be released each month in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce hormones for the body.
• Fallopian Tubes – The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. Eggs that are released by the ovaries pass through the fallopian tubes to the uterus where they will grow as a baby if they are fertilized.
Types of Hysterectomy
Women may have a hysterectomy to remove cancer, or for relief of non-cancerous conditions such as fibroids. During a hysterectomy, the uterus and cervix are removed, but the fallopian tubes and ovaries are left intact. A separate surgery to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries may be done at the same time as a hysterectomy. There are three types of hysterectomy:
• Partial hysterectomy – In cases where cancer is not present, it may be possible to remove the top part of the uterus while leaving the cervix intact.