Animal spaying, routinely performed to prevent pets from making more kittens or puppies, involves an ovario-hysterectomy, or removal of the ovaries and uterus. Hysterectomies in the human population are common for such a broad range of reasons that people often use the word to describe taking out or tying off any
parts of the female reproductive system. Hysterectomies, however, are not that simple in definition or design.
For example, hysterectomies may be "total," "partial," or "radical." Total hysterectomies require surgical removal of the uterus and cervix, while partial hysterectomies typically involve only the uterus. A radical hysterectomy calls for removing the uterus, cervix, ovaries, oviducts, lymph nodes, and lymph channels. Other variations can occur, too, such as a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (taking out fallopian tubes and both ovaries, along with the uterus).
More than a half million hysterectomies are performed in the United States each year, making the surgery the second most common for female patients. Physicians recommend the operation in treatment plans for a variety of conditions, particularly uterine fibroid tumors.
Although birth control is the primary purpose of spaying an animal, the procedure also reduces the incidence of certain cancers, infections, and behavioral issues.