What To Expect After A Hysterectomy
This ‘surgical menopause’ can help many symptoms, but may leave you with some you had not counted on.
For most women, life without a uterus means relief from the symptoms that caused them to have a hysterectomy — bleeding, pelvic pain, and abdominal bloating.
For others it can be the start of a rollercoaster of changing symptoms and emotional challenges.
After a hysterectomy, you will have a brief recovery time in the hospital. Your recovery time at home — before you can get back to all your regular activities — will vary depending on the procedure you had.
Most women go home 2-3 days after this surgery, but complete recovery takes from six to eight weeks. During this time, you need to rest at home. You should not be doing housework until you talk with your doctor about restrictions.
There should be no lifting for the first two weeks. Walking is encouraged, but not heavy lifting. After 6 weeks, you can get back to your regular activities, including having sex.
Vaginal or laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH).
A vaginal hysterectomy is less surgically invasive than an abdominal procedure, and recovery can be as short as two weeks. Most women come home the same day or the next. Walking is encouraged, but not heavy lifting.
You will need to abstain from sex for at least 6 weeks.
Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH).
This procedure is the least invasive and can have a recovery period as short as six days to two weeks. Walking is encouraged, but not heavy lifting.
The surgeon’s movements are mimicked by robotic arms that make small incisions to remove the uterus. Most women come home the next day. If the cervix is removed, you will have the same restrictions as you would have for an LAVH.
Post surgery problems
Call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms with any type of hysterectomy:
- Fever or chills
- Heavy bleeding or unusual vaginal discharge
- Severe pain
- Redness or discharge from incisions
- Problems urinating or having a bowel movement
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
Post surgery challenges
The good news is that with relief from symptoms, women may have better sex — with greater libido, frequency, and enjoyment. Many women are fine after their hysterectomy and see it as a relief from monthly periods and mood swings.
However, if the ovaries were removed as well there are a few more challenges ahead.
If you had not gone through menopause before your hysterectomy, you probably will begin having symptoms of menopause — hot flashes and mood swings.
Your body is adjusting to changes in hormone levels and so you may also have some changes in sexual desire and enjoyment, and vaginal dryness. Most women are suggested immediate HRT but you may want to consider achieving hormone balance with more natural bioidentical hormones to replace both oestrogen and progesterone.
Although the bodily changes can be so drastic, what is often overlooked is the emotional aspect of hysterectomy. The uterus is the strongest, and one of the largest, muscles in the body For a woman it literally ‘holds us together’ and that can impact how we feel.
There may be a sense of loss and grief over the loss of your ability to have children. If you had surgery because of illness or cancer, you may feel depressed. These feelings are normal so don’t ignore them but talk to someone – whether friend, family or a professional – as talking really will help.
Post hysterectomy hormone balance really is essential in order to provide protection from the risks of hormonal cancers, heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis.
Post hysterectomy because the ovaries are no longer producing any hormones, the body will shift production of oestrogen into the fat cells of the abdomen, hips and thighs. However progesterone production will rapidly drop and excess oestrogen can also result in weight gain which again can be a potential health risk.