Understanding a Partial Hysterectomy vs a Full Hysterectomy

Asian American woman with her hand on her head and her stomach in beige top worry about what to expect from a hysterectomy
Medically Reviewed
May 12, 2023

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a woman’s uterus and is a pretty common surgical procedure for women. While a common procedure, most women are not sure what to expect or understand a partial hysterectomy vs a full hysterectomy.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 11% of women in the United States have had a hysterectomy by age 45. By the age of 60, this number increases to one-third of women.  

The age at which women undergo hysterectomy varies depending on the reason for the procedure. For example, women who undergo hysterectomy for cancer tend to be older, with a median age of 63. In contrast, women who undergo hysterectomy for fibroids tend to be younger, with a median age of 44. Additionally, African American women are more likely to undergo hysterectomy than white women, with a rate of 24.3% compared to 19.5%. 

Because the reason for the procedure varies, women need to understand that there are different types of hysterectomies, including partial and complete hysterectomies.  

This blog post will discuss the differences between a patrial hysterectomy and a full hysterectomy

Partial Hysterectomy

Also known as a subtotal or supracervical hysterectomy, a partial hysterectomy involves the removal of the upper part of the uterus, leaving the cervix intact. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may or may not be removed during this procedure.  

This type of hysterectomy is often recommended for women with certain medical conditions, such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis, where the uterus needs to be removed but preserving the cervix is possible.  

The advantages of a partial hysterectomy include a shorter recovery time, less blood loss, and a reduced risk of complications such as infection.  

Additionally, by preserving the ovaries, women who undergo a partial hysterectomy do not have to face abrupt menopausal symptoms. If the ovaries are removed along with the uterus, a woman will immediately enter menopause because the production of these hormones stops abruptly. If a woman undergoes a hysterectomy without the removal of her ovaries, she may still experience some menopausal symptoms, but they will generally occur more gradually over time.  

Full Hysterectomy 

A complete hysterectomy, also known as a full hysterectomy, involves the removal of both the uterus and cervix. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed during the procedure.  

This type of hysterectomy is often recommended for women with certain medical conditions, such as cancer of the uterus or cervix or those with severe or chronic pelvic pain. For example, removing the cervix can help reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer, and removing the ovaries can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer 

The disadvantages of a full hysterectomy include a longer recovery time, more blood loss, and a higher risk of complications such as infection and injury to nearby organs.  

After a full hysterectomy, a woman’s body no longer produces estrogen and progesterone, sending them into menopause. Menopause can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.  

Whether you have a partial or a full, women undergoing a hysterectomy will face hormonal challenges. Removal of the uterus without the ovaries causes less dramatic changes in hormone levels than a full hysterectomy, but a partial hysterectomy can still cause a hormonal imbalance 

Here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch for: 

  • Hot flashes When you’ve had your ovaries removed during a hysterectomy, you’re likely to have sudden and intense hot flashes. 
  • Vaginal dryness or discomfort- Typically, the hormone estrogen helps the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of fluid. When hormone levels drop, it causes vaginal dryness, which can be uncomfortable and impact your sex life. You may also experience vaginal itchiness or burning due to changes in hormone levels. 
  • Sleep problems- Poor sleep quality and sleep disturbances are common when there is a hormonal imbalance. Those dealing with hormonal imbalances often wake up several times throughout the night, resulting in poor sleep. 
  • Memory loss- Estrogen plays an essential role in thinking, helping us remember words or process information more quickly. Lower estrogen can cause you to become more forgetful and have difficulty concentrating. As a result, you may have trouble performing multiple tasks at a time or often feel “foggy.” 
  • Unexplained Fatigue – Fatigue is a common symptom that typically is a culmination of changing hormone levels, sleep disturbances, and mood swings.  

While all of this can sound scary, women are not doomed to face early menopause and the accompanying symptoms if they choose a hysterectomy to address other issues.  

Benefits of BHRT After Hysterectomy

Bio-Identical Hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can effectively treat women after a hysterectomy to alleviate menopausal symptoms, prevent osteoporosis, and improve heart health.   

BHRT can help alleviate these symptoms by replacing the hormones the body is no longer producing and help stabilize hormone levels if they’re no longer optimal.  

Benefits of Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy 

  1. Relieves Menopausal Symptoms: The most significant benefit of BHRT after a hysterectomy is that it can relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. These symptoms can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life, and BHRT can help alleviate them.  
  2. Prevents Osteoporosis: BHRT can also help prevent osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle. Estrogen helps keep bones strong, and after a hysterectomy, the body no longer produces estrogen. BHRT can help replace estrogen and prevent osteoporosis.  
  3. Improves Heart Health: BHRT can also improve heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease. Estrogen helps keep blood vessels flexible and can reduce the risk of heart disease in women. After a hysterectomy, the body no longer produces estrogen, which can increase the risk of heart disease. BHRT can help replace estrogen and reduce the risk of heart disease.  

Women should discuss the risks and benefits of BHRT with their healthcare provider to determine if it is the right treatment option for them.   

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A Medical Director, and one of the first physicians to join the Nava Health & Vitality Center, Dr. Douglas Lord has made significant contributions to our Center and its founding principles. Dr. Lord has helped develop and implement the Nava Method™—Nava’s proprietary approach to total body wellness. He has also been instrumental in liaising with other expert practitioners to successfully implement Nava’s range of therapies, treatments, and products.