Vaginal hysterectomy

There is a common misconception that vaginal hysterectomy is done by "suction"! This is totally incorrect. Vaginal hysterectomy is like an abdominal hysterectomy done in reverse, with the surgery starting at the bottom of the uterus (cervix) rather than at the top (fundus). Just as with abdominal hysterectomy, the vaginal procedure involves severing the connections between the womb and the surrounding tissues, but this is all done through the vagina rather the abdomen.

The classic indication for vaginal hysterectomy is prolapse (dropping of the womb from its normal position in the pelvis into the vaginal canal). Vaginal prolapse is often accompanied by prolapse of the vagina itself, in which case surgery would involve not just vaginal hysterectomy but vaginal repair as well.

Vaginal hysterectomy can be a suitable approach in other situations too. It can usually be done if you are complaining of heavy periods or have fibroids, two of the commonest reasons for carrying out a hysterectomy. Certain pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions of the cervix and endometrium (lining of the womb) can also be managed by vaginal hysterectomy. If indicated, the ovaries and fallopian tubes can be removed during vaginal hysterectomy. It is even possible to carry out a subtotal hysterectomy (where the cervix is conserved) vaginally provided your womb is not too enlarged. In all these situations, vaginal hysterectomy is an attractive alternative to abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomy because it leaves no external scars, you have less discomfort after surgery, and your recovery tends to quicker.

Vaginal hysterectomy is, however, not possible in all cases. For instance, if there is concern about adhesions (scar tissue) or endometriosis, if you have very large fibroids or a cyst on your ovary, then abdominal or laparoscopic hysterectomy is more appropriate.