A woman's reproductive organs include the uterus (womb),
vagina, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Surgery to remove the uterus is called hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is a common operation for women
in the United States, second only to cesarean section (abdominal
delivery of a pregnancy). Because hysterectomy is major surgery with risks,
alternatives to this treatment may need to be considered along with the benefits
of having a hysterectomy. Women who have a hysterectomy stop having menstrual
periods and cannot become pregnant or give birth. If the tubes and ovaries
are removed along with the uterus (called a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) menopause will occur, regardless of
the patient's age, because of the absence of estrogen produced by the ovaries.
Removing the uterus may speed the onset of menopause by several years. The
March 24/31, 2004, issue of JAMA includes an article
about hysterectomy for abnormal uterine bleeding.