Hysterectomy. Total vs. Partial? What does that REALLY mean?

Today’s blog post is about hysterectomies; total vs partial.

Whenever patients describe the type of hysterectomy they have had, these two terms inevitably come up. Most of the time, their true meaning is a bit obscure, both to me, as I don’t typically use these terms to describe hysterectomies, and to patients, who inevitably use them incorrectly.

I decided to write about this topic as I do A LOT of hysterectomies.

So, just what is a hysterectomy? The medical term “hyster,” means uterus. Thus, a hysterectomy is removal of the uterus. Women have hysterectomies for many different reasons; bleeding being one of the more common ones. Fibroids, which often times cause uteruses to become enlarged, and can also contribute to heavy bleeding, are another culprit.

Lo and behold, wouldn’t you guess? Both are the reasons for the hysterectomies I’ver most recently performed.

So, when folks describe having had a “partial” hysterectomy, most interpret this as meaning they’ve only had their uterus removed but still have their tubes and ovaries. This is NOT, what that means. The TRUE meaning of a partial hysterectomy is that only the uterus was removed; NOT the cervix. Another name for this type of hysterectomy is a supracervical hysterectomy; meaning, the uterus was removed above the cervix. I prefer using the term “supracervical” as opposed to “partial” hysterectomy as I feel it is more precise. “Hyster,” meaning uterus, has NOTHING to do with your ovaries and tubes. Remember that.

When people describe having had a “total” hysterectomy, most think this means they’ve had EVERYTHING removed; specifically, uterus, ovaries, and tubes. In actuality, total hysterectomy means that you’ve had your uterus, along with your cervix, removed.

I believe the easiest way to describe the type of hysterectomy you’ve had is to simply state everything that was removed, or simply, state what’s left. I often find myself going through these series of questions: Do you still have your cervix? Fallopian tubes? How about your ovaries? Forget the “how” part of the surgery, i.e., how the uterus was removed. Was it performed laparoscopically? Vaginally? Robotically? That part is easy to figure out as incisions, or lack there of, will help me fill in those blanks.

Now that I’m back in the OR and burning on all cylinders, literally, this seemed like an appropriate topic to cover. Any questions?

Thank you so much for your continued support, ALWAYS, but particularly through these trying times….Y’all know what I’m talking about.

Be sure you check out my podcast; as usual, I have LOTS to say.

Until next time, I’m hoping this blog post has both informed as well as entertained.


Choose happiness.

Dr. Angela

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About Me

Hi new friends!

Mother, Midwesterner, and award-winning OB/GYN, Dr. Angela is equal parts best girlfriend and bold professional, supporting women’s health with innovative approaches to care and heavy doses of humor. Dr. Angela has done more than launch a successful practice, she has defined herself as a voice for a new generation of womanhood, established her ASK DR. ANGELA brand committed to authenticity, and built a community rooted in trust, candor, and compassion.

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