What Happens Internally After a Hysterectomy?

Illustration of uterus and ovaries relating to what happens internally after a hysterectomy
October 6, 2021

If you’ve had a hysterectomy or are anticipating having the procedure performed, your first questions may be, “What happens internally after a hysterectomy?” or “What happens inside my body?”

These are completely normal questions to have. After all, the surgeon is removing a good portion of your abdominal tissues and organs, especially if you get a radical hysterectomy.

To understand what happens internally after a hysterectomy, we’ll first take a look at how the surgeon performs the procedure. Then we’ll answer many of the detailed questions women frequently ask about what to expect internally after a hysterectomy.

Types of Hysterectomy Procedures

What happens inside your body after a hysterectomy will depend on the type of hysterectomy and how the surgeon performs the procedure.

There are three different types of hysterectomy. The type your doctor recommends for you is based on your circumstances.

  • Partial hysterectomy (supracervical hysterectomy) removes the uterus but leaves the cervix intact. This type affects the body the least, internally.
  • Total hysterectomy removes the cervix as well as the uterus. In some cases, the surgeon may also remove one or both of your ovaries and fallopian tubes. This type requires a vaginal cuff and may affect your hormones if you have your ovaries removed.
  • A radical hysterectomy removes the cervix, the uterus, and part of the vagina. The surgeon may also remove your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and local lymph nodes. This type is like the total hysterectomy in how it affects your body internally, but it may also require some vaginal cosmetic surgery.

There are also four different ways the surgeon can perform your hysterectomy on the day:

  • Through the vagina (no abdominal incisions)
  • Via the abdomen (open surgery)
  • Using laparoscopy (a minimally invasive technique)
  • Robotic hysterectomy (laparoscopic surgery that uses a robot)

Each of these techniques has its pros and cons. As you can imagine, having open surgery that requires the surgeon to cut through abdominal muscles causes many more internal side effects than laparoscopy, which only requires a couple of small slits.

Now let’s get to your questions.

First up, questions about internal changes

Do the Remaining Organs Shift to Fill Up the Void?

Yes. After a hysterectomy, the remaining abdominal and pelvic organs will shift slightly to fill in the space. This shift can cause incontinence as well as other problems. Keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong by doing Kegels and regular exercise can help prevent these problems.

How Do the Ovaries Stay in Place?

The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus. Ligaments that extend from the upper part of the uterus to the lower part of the ovaries hold them in place. If you want to preserve your ovaries, your surgeon can reattach them after they’ve separated them from your uterus.

What Happens to My Bowels After a Hysterectomy?

Everything in your pelvis sits close together, so it’s natural that your bowels would be affected by a hysterectomy.

You may experience

  • gas incontinence
  • an urge to defecate
  • cramping
  • constipation
  • irregular bowel movements
  • fecal incontinence
  • an inability to distinguish between gas and feces.

You can expect your first bowel movement within 4-5 days after surgery. Bowel problems should go away anywhere from several days to weeks after your hysterectomy.

Can My Internal Pelvic Organs Get Messed Up After a Hysterectomy?

Some women have pelvic organ prolapse after surgery. The vagina may collapse, the tissue between the bladder and vaginal wall or rectum and vagina may weaken, or the small intestine may drop into the lower pelvic cavity.

Prolapses usually occur in women who have preexisting pelvic floor problems. Women who have no issues with prolapse prior to surgery are at a much lower risk of developing post-surgery prolapse.

In a Total or Radical Hysterectomy, What Replaces My Cervix?

Don’t worry. Things do change internally after a hysterectomy. But your surgeon is not going to leave you with a big gaping hole at the top of your vagina. Instead, they will make a vaginal cuff by stitching together the top part of the vagina to create a closure.

And Now, Your Questions About How Internal Changes Might Affect Your Sex Life

Can a Man Feel When a Woman Has Had a Hysterectomy?

This is a concern of many women who want to have sex after a hysterectomy. If the surgeon only removed your uterus, sex after hysterectomy for the man may feel surprisingly similar. In procedures that remove the cervix or some of the vagina, the surgeon will take steps to maintain vaginal functionality and do some reconstructive surgery if necessary.

Will I Still Get Wet After a Hysterectomy?

It takes time for sensation and natural lubrication to return after a hysterectomy. Using water- or silicone-based lubricants can ease penetration.

Can I Still Climax After a Hysterectomy?

The answer is yes. After a hysterectomy, you still have your clitoris and labia, which are highly sensitive. Stimulation to these areas can bring on an orgasm. More research needs to be done to understand what role the cervix plays in orgasm.

Where Does Sperm Go After a Hysterectomy?

After a hysterectomy, sperm ejaculated into the vagina has nowhere to go because the remaining areas of your reproductive tract are closed off from your abdominal cavity. Your body will eventually expel sperm along with your normal vaginal secretions.

Does HPV Go Away After a Hysterectomy?

Since hysterectomy removes the cervix, you have eliminated the risk of developing cervical cancer because of persistent HPV infection. However, HPV can still hang out in cells of the vagina.

Finally, Let’s Talk About What Can Happen Inside Your Mind After a Hysterectomy

What happens internally after a hysterectomy is one thing. However, if your ovaries are removed, your body will go into premature menopause if you’ve not already gone through it naturally. This means that your hormones will be out of balance, and you will have all the symptoms of peri/menopause.

Even if you don’t have your ovaries removed, you still have a 4-6% chance of being affected by depression or anxiety after a hysterectomy. Unfortunately, younger women are at a higher risk (12%) of suffering from depression after a hysterectomy.

We are here for you.

Hopefully, we’ve answered all of your questions. However, if we haven’t, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Our team at Nava is serious about your wellbeing, and we will do whatever we can to support you in your post-hysterectomy journey.

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What Happens Internally After a Hysterectomy?
If you have unspoken questions about what happens inside you when you've had a hysterectomy, we give you a full array of questions and answers to set your mind at ease. Read on to discover more.

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