If you are planning to undergo hysterectomy, you will surely have several questions regarding its recovery. This article provides some information on what you should expect during your recovery time post a hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where a woman’s uterus is removed. There are mainly three types of hysterectomy which include subtotal hysterectomy, total hysterectomy, and total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. In case of subtotal hysterectomy, only the uterus is removed whereas in the case of total hysterectomy, the cervix is also removed along with the uterus. The third type is also called radical hysterectomy, where along with the uterus and the cervix, the fallopian tubes as well as ovaries are also removed during the surgery.
Hysterectomy can be done for several reasons, one among which is heavy and painful periods due to which a woman experiences anemia. Another reason may be due to pelvic inflammatory disease where a woman experiences chronic pain in her pelvis. Other than this, endometriosis i.e. the condition when the cells that are usually found inside the uterus begin to grow outside it, may also require hysterectomy to treat it. This surgery is also required when the uterus prolapses, i.e. when the uterus falls into the vagina due to weakening of the muscles that support it. Cervical, ovarian, endometrium, as well as cancer of the fallopian tubes requires hysterectomy for treatment. Though there are certain side effects or complications attached to it, this surgery sometimes becomes the only way of getting rid of the underlying problem. Hence, it is important for women who are planning for a hysterectomy to know about recovery after this surgery.
The experiences during recovery will be different for every women and will depend on the way it is done. There are actually two ways of doing this surgery which are vaginal hysterectomy and abdominal hysterectomy. With the former, the recovery is said to be faster and the complications are also lesser. However, in certain cases, abdominal surgery remains the only option. Other than the type of operation, the individual’s age, reason for the operation and general health conditions also decide the experiences one may have during recovery. Here is a look at what one should expect while recovering from this surgical procedure.
Pain and Discomfort
Just like any other surgery, one may have to experience pain and discomfort for some time after hysterectomy too. However, the affected person is usually given analgesics i.e. pain killers and hence one may not have to endure too much pain. The affected person is also catheterized after the surgery i.e. a tube is attached for passage of urine for at least 24 hours after the operation.
Though the first 24 hours, the doctors will recommend the affected person to take complete bed rest, a day or two later, they will be asked to walk around a little because too much of inactivity can lead to blood clots in the legs. If the condition of the affected person is stable, she may be discharged from the hospital after 3-4 days, in case of vaginal hysterectomy. On the other hand, in case of abdominal hysterectomy, it may take more than 5-7 days to release the affected person. The total recovery time can range anywhere between 6-8 weeks, during which one has to go for regular checkups to the doctor. Also, it is important to stay away from any kind of physical work during the recovery period.
Vaginal Bleeding and Menopausal Symptoms
It is normal to find vaginal discharge or bleeding after hysterectomy. Initially, the discharge will be brownish red in color, however after a few days, it becomes dark or bright red in color. Moreover, bleeding stops by this time and one may only experience slight spotting. Though this does not remain for a long time, there have been cases, when women have experienced bleeding or spotting for several weeks. If such a thing happens or if you experience bleeding after it is completely stopped, talk to your health practitioner immediately.
Apart from vaginal bleeding, some women may also experience menopause symptoms during recovery period. This may range from mild to severe and may last for 3-4 days. One may observe menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, anxiety, confusion, desire to cry, sweating, etc., during this time. If you find any such problems, talk to your doctor who may prescribe certain tablets or hormonal replacement therapy to cure this problem.
Many women think that undergoing hysterectomy will lower their sexual drive. However, this is not completely true and there have been cases where women have said that their sex life improved after undergoing the same. There are chances that women may experience vaginal dryness due to removal of ovaries. Nevertheless, this can be treated with the help of estrogen as well as vaginal lubricants. However, it is important to abstain from sex for the first six weeks after going through this surgical procedure.
Apart from the physical problems that accompany hysterectomy, women may also experience some psychological problems after the surgery. It is said that women may feel a sense of loss, especially young women who have had to go through this surgery earlier in life. It becomes more problematic, if they have not had children. These emotional problems have to be handled very carefully, as these may cause serious psychological problems. If you are experiencing something similar, make it a point to talk to your doctor about it who will be able to help you in a better way.
There are some things that you have to keep in mind during the recovery process. You have to avoid any kind of strenuous physical activities like lifting heavy things, doing certain household work, etc., during the recovery process. This is important to avoid any kind of complications. However, it is also necessary to do some simple exercises to prevent weight gain. Your doctor will recommend certain simple exercises like walking which you can begin in a few weeks after the surgery. It will be really good if you are able to take ample rest during this time and avoid even cooking food for sometime. Arrange for a family member or friend to stay with you or send food for you.
These are some things about the recovery that you should know. Hysterectomy has developed a lot during recent times and the complications related to this surgery have also decreased considerably. Taking care of yourself and following your doctor’s instructions carefully will ensure that you will completely recover and be back to your normal life, after undergoing this surgical procedure.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.