Cervical abnormalities: CIN3 and CGIN

Hysterectomy

Although LLETZ or a cone biopsy are the most common treatments for CIN3, occasionally, if a LLETZ or cone biopsy is not appropriate or the woman has additional gynaecological problems, a hysterectomy may be advised. This surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and involves the removal of the cervix and the uterus.

Two women we spoke with decided to have a hysterectomy because they were worried about having cancer in the future. Rachel also had abnormal bleeding after a cone biopsy for CIN3 and CGIN.

Everyone feels differently about having a hysterectomy and this can depend on many factors, including age, diagnosis and whether a woman has children. Lynne was diagnosed with CIN3 when she was 55. At a follow-up appointment, further abnormalities were found. Having a hysterectomy did not worry her because she had already had children and had been sterilised.
A hysterectomy is a very emotional and upsetting experience for some women. Janet hadn’t had children and realised she was pregnant only when she was diagnosed with CIN 3. Having a hysterectomy and losing a baby was devastating and she had depression afterwards.
Melanie was diagnosed with cervical cancer after treatment for CIN 3. She decided to have a hysterectomy rather than a radical trachelectomy (where the surgeon removes all of the cancer but leaves the internal opening of the cervix) because she felt it would be the safest option for her. She knew that she didn’t want to have children in the future.
Women described what happened when they went into hospital to have a hysterectomy.
Most of the women we spoke to felt tired immediately after the operation. They usually had a catheter, (a small tube put in the bladder connected to a small bag to collect urine), drainage tubes from the wound, and morphine to help with pain. After a day or so in hospital they became more mobile. Moving around helped to ease some of the initial pain women experienced after their operation.
Women were advised about recovery when they were discharged from hospital. They described how, at first, they rested as much as possible and, gradually, were able to do more while at home. They advised other women to rest as much as possible, even though they may feel well enough to do more.

Most of the women we spoke to felt that having a hysterectomy had been the right decision for them. Many had a smooth recovery and said that, once they were feeling better, they were glad to get back to work. Although most of the women we interviewed recovered well from a hysterectomy, some experience short or long term bladder problems. Janet developed bladder weakness after her hysterectomy and needed to take nightly medication.

Some of the women we talked to said the whole experience had made them look at life differently.
Women still need follow-up if they have had a hysterectomy for abnormal cells. The cervical screening test (smear) will be taken from the top of the vagina, near where the cervix was. This is called a ‘vault smear’. Very rarely, the abnormal cells can come back in this area, so women are offered cervical screening tests (smears) at six months and one year after their hysterectomy. If everything is fine, they won’t need to have any more cervical screening after that (see ‘Follow-up care’).
More experiences of hysterectomy can be found on the Healthtalkonline Cervical Screening and Cervical Cancer sites.

Last reviewed April 2012.

Last updated April 2012.

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