After the Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy - What It Is and Why It's Done
A hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes, is the second most common abdominal surgery for women in the US. The reasons for a hysterectomy are many and varied and range from cancer to endometriosis and excessive bleeding to chronic pain. A woman who has had a hysterectomy prior to menopause will experience the end of menstruation and the impossibility of pregnancy.
A hysterectomy is an invasive procedure that can be done through the abdominal wall, through an incision in the lower abdomen, or through an incision in the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy). It can also be performed using a laparoscope or by a robotic surgical approach, which uses laparoscopic instruments that are inserted through small abdominal incisions. If the uterus is large or if the doctor wants to ensure no other disease issues are present, a surgical incision in the abdomen is most likely.
It's Going to Take Some Time - Be Patient with Yourself
Since it is major surgery, there is a period of time necessary for healing and restoration before getting on with the day-to-day business of life. There are several steps a woman can take to aid healing after the surgery; however, they are contingent upon the invasiveness of the procedure.
· These days most hospitals will get a person up and walking as soon as possible after surgery to avoid blood clots. Even though it is uncomfortable, it is important.
· A rest period of at least two or three weeks with no heavy lifting is usually recommended, sometimes more, depending upon the severity of the surgery and if there are any complications. Usually, women can return to work after three weeks and get back to household chores and driving in that same period of time. Sex and heavy exercise should be held off for about six weeks to avoid bleeding.
· It is important to get enough iron in order to shorten healing time. The doctor may prescribe an iron supplement to take along with eating a balanced diet. It is important to drink enough water (eight glasses is recommended) to avoid constipation. A stool softener may be necessary to help make bowel movements easier and avoid tearing any sutures. Dairy products can cause constipation, so it is best to leave them out of the diet until things get back to normal.
· It is common for women who have undergone a hysterectomy of have myriad feelings and emotions, anxieties and fears associated with the finality of the procedure. It is important that a woman be very honest with herself in terms of how she feels about having undergone a hysterectomy. If she needs to deal with negative emotions, fears, depression or other emotions that are stressful then an appointment with a psychologist or counselor would be appropriate. Stress and anxiety create an atmosphere that makes healing difficult.
Do You Need HRT?
· If there is a concern about the hormonal ramifications of the surgery, a discussion with the doctor about hormone replacement is wise. Hormone levels can go out of balance and change dramatically after a hysterectomy and obtaining the best treatment to keep on an even keel is a good idea.
· An incision can be very itchy and uncomfortable as it heals. Use creams and lotions to relieve the itching at the site of abdominal surgery. Laparoscopy or vaginal removal does not leave scars; however, there may be some numbness that goes down the legs after the surgery. It usually goes away within a couple of months.
The primary thing to remember is that a hysterectomy is significant surgery and as such takes time to heal. Don't be in a rush to get back to doing heavy exercising or lifting. Take the time necessary to heal properly and by doing so, complications will be minimized and healing will be more complete.
You can read more about what to expect after a hysterectomy here.