Hysterectomy refers to partial or total removal of a woman’s uterus. Over the span of centuries, hysterectomy has had a long, somewhat controversial history, which continues to surface during debates on women’s physical, sexual, and psychological health. Hysterectomy is still one of the most common medical procedures for women worldwide and can be performed vaginally or abdominally, with recent technological advancements allowing minimally invasive (i.e., laparoscopic) procedures. This entry discusses the history of hysterectomy, including ancient and modern perspectives; surgical methods for hysterectomy and potential complications; and the social and psychological implications of hysterectomy.

Historical Background

The word hysterectomy has its roots in the term hystera, the Greek word for “womb.” Hysteria was a term introduced later in ancient Egypt and Greece to refer to a ...

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