The uterus is a hollow, muscular organ that holds and feeds a fertilized egg. A wide variety of conditions can affect the uterus. Traditionally, many conditions affecting the uterus are treated with hysterectomy – the surgical removal of the uterus. In the United States, doctors perform about 600,000 hysterectomies every year, making it the second most common surgical procedure.
Hysterectomy can be a life-saving treatment for such serious conditions as cancer or uncontrollable bleeding. In many cases, though, hysterectomy is an elective procedure performed to relieve chronic pain, bleeding or other disabling conditions. These may be caused by fibroids (noncancerous tumors); endometriosis (noncancerous growth of the uterine lining) or prolapsed (falling or slipping of the uterus).