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Cervical Screening

Hysterectomy

In women who are past childbearing age or who have completed their families, an operation to remove the womb (hysterectomy) is occasionally carried out for persistent or severe abnormal cervical cells, which are also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Women who have not yet had the menopause will have the opportunity to discuss with their consultant whether to have their ovaries removed.

We interviewed two women who had a hysterectomy because they had persistent abnormal cervical cells.

These women had previously had a variety of treatments to remove their abnormal cervical cells. After these treatments they experienced recurrences of abnormal cells and they were advised by their consultant to have a hysterectomy.

 
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Laura explains how she felt when she had another abnormal test result after having LLETZ and a...

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Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 37
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I was devastated actually because I really thought that it doesn’t come back again. It was quite surprising. Even the consultant said to me, “Normally once we have removed it, it rarely comes back.” So I suppose, well I do I worry that it is cancer, because I had pre cancerous and because it is your womb, your cervix, you don’t… I haven’t felt ill. A lot of people have symptoms. I haven’t had any symptoms. So when it is something you can’t see inside your body, you think has it gone somewhere else. So obviously then I went back straight away and had the cone biopsy done. And that is when he said, you know, “I can see it. It is hard for me to get to it, and it could go into your womb further on. So, you know, you have had it twice now and I really do think…” He said, “The more tissues they take away it gets harder for them each time to keep doing this LLETZ and biopsies.” So he said, “You know, how do you feel about hysterectomy?” And I had had my children and I didn’t want to keep going through this all the time, and worrying. And so I said, yes straightaway, “Yes, that is fine. Just, you know, get it over and done with and hopefully that will be end of it, really.”

A hysterectomy can be an emotional experience for some women, both before and after the operation. Being provided with sufficient information about the procedure and what to expect, was suggested by the women we interviewed as way to help to take away some of the anxiety some women experienced.

 
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Laura felt very tearful before her hysterectomy and since coming home from hospital she has felt...

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Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 37
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So do you know why you were crying?

 

Because I knew, it was because I was having something done, that I didn’t want to have done. But I had no choice, and that was what it was. I just didn’t want to go through with this big operation. I had never had a Caesarean. Everyone was telling me it was like a Caesarean but with no baby. And I was just worried about leaving the children as well. I worried so much about how they would cope without me, in hospital. Luckily I was in there three days and came out on the fourth day. So I wasn’t in there as long as they told me. And I didn’t have a catheter, which they told me I would. So I think my recovery was so much better because I didn’t have that, and I think because I’m still sort of young, I’ve just not had any problems. I’ve been fine, so yes. And I just think it is quite an emotional thing going into hospital and it’s women’s things isn’t it. You don’t think anyone else sort of really understands what you are going through and you sort of, without having to talk to anybody that has had it done, you just don’t know what to expect I suppose.
 
There were leaflets in the hospital, in the small little room, the separate gynae unit, which I picked up and read. But I didn’t get a lot of information and not a lot of information after the hysterectomy either. And, it just tells you basically what to take into hospital. But not, it didn’t tell you sort of how you would feel emotionally, and stuff like that, which I think maybe you could be prepared for. Because I know from looking on the website that it is quite an emotional thing, and you read that people are having really down days and can’t keep, don’t stop crying. And I must admit after coming out of hospital a few days later, I had one of those days. And my husband said to me, because I spoke to him about it and discussed it with him, and said, “You know, these women are going through emotions, blah, blah.” And he said to me, “You’ve just had one of those days haven’t you?” And I said, “I must have done, because I could not stop crying.” 
 
But I don’t feel like that now. But I think it is just like having a baby I think, I felt like I had a baby with no baby. And I think, you sort of, the way you hobble along when you walk, and that is how you are when you’ve had a baby. And I suppose I remember having those, a few blue days after having the babies and I think that is probably just what it was, was just emotions were all over the place and being in hospital, I suppose, as well, away from your family and worrying if they are being okay. Which they were fine and you know, my husband would say, “Yes, they had this for dinner, and they have had that.” 
 
And before I was crying before going into hospital, and he said to me, “Don’t worry. You think the whole world is collapsing because you are not at home.” And they were fine. So don’t, you know, I wouldn’t, if I had to go in hospital again, I wouldn’t worry about the family because they were fine. I just think it is you being a Mum. You just worry yourself silly.
Another woman said that she recovered well and she did not find it an upsetting experience because she had already had all the children she wanted and she was beginning the menopause.
 

She was surprised how well she felt after her hysterectomy. She was not upset about needing a...

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Age at interview: 63
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 50
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So he did the hysterectomy and I had a lovely 10 weeks off work or something which was very nice and I felt no ill effects. I was amazed at how, how I had no pain and no real discomfort. It was, it was remarkably easy. And I didn't feel particularly upset at losing at what were by then redundant parts of me. I'd had a couple of kids which was what I wanted and so they'd done their job fine. So I think that wasn't an upsetting experience.

 

Laura describes her recovery from her hysterectomy in hospital and at home.

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Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 37
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And when you actually started getting up and walking around, how did that feel?
 
I was very sore. My tummy was very sore and they were telling me to try and walk straight, but it is quite hard to. But I did try. The next day, I was only allowed to get up to go to toilet on the commode next to me. And then the day after, they said to me to go and have a shower. And walk to the toilets, which I did. My Mum couldn’t believe how well I was. I got up to go to toilet and she sort of came to help me, and I said, “No. I can do it.” And I was a bit scared in the shower on my own in there and it was sort of hard to wash with your scar being so sore. But I had like a plastic dressing over it, which I had internal stitches, I didn’t have any external. So they put this plastic waterproof dressing over me. But you just felt that all the time, you had to hold your tummy in. You felt like you needed a real support there, sort of thing.
 
But no, and then I sat out on the bed, not in, I sat on the edge. It was hard to get up and down off the bed. That was the worst thing, was rolling to get off the bed.
The physio came to see me to sort of help. But they said, you know, the more active you are the quicker you heal. So I just sort of went for little walks and you know, sat in the chair rather than just laying on the bed all the time.
 
They helped me a lot, and I think that’s why I’ve have sort of recovered so well. My Mother-in-law came every day, put my washing out for me, and made me coffee, because I couldn’t lift the kettle. But I haven’t done, I have just started to put the washing out. I haven’t hoovered. I have been very careful. They say that if you’re not, your healing takes so much longer. And you will suffer. Because things can happen inside that you don’t realise. You think you’ve healed, but you haven’t. So that is why I’d say as well just to not do anything really. 
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Last reviewed October 2015.

Last updated February 2013.

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