Bowel Pain After Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy removes a woman's uterus, usually as a result of complications from fibroids, endometriosis, and the like. After the surgery, the woman will not get pregnant any more. Though a hysterectomy is a common and safe surgery, the fact remains that it is a major operation. It comes with certain expected side effects or risks, such as excessive gas or bowel pain. Bowel pain after the surgery is actually rather common.

Why Do You Have Bowel Pain After Hysterectomy?

The following conditions can cause bowel pain after the surgery.

1.   Gastrointestinal Problems

When preparing for surgery, the patients should ensure that their bowels are empty. That’s because the contractions of the bowel will slow down during and after surgery, which makes it tough to evacuate anything in the bowel. This can lead to an obstruction or partial obstruction in the bowel, which then causes pain. In this condition, the patient will usually be given intravenous fluid and be advised to stop drinking or eating anything until the symptom is relieved.

2.   Constipation

Constipation after a hysterectomy occurs for a number of reasons, most of which aren’t entirely understood. Injury to the autonomic nerves, a drop in estrogen, the use of certain medications, depression and anxiety, and anatomical changes can all contribute to constipation and bowel pain after hysterectomy.

3.   Abdominal Adhesion

Adhesions are created by tissues and organs being injured, organs coming into contact with foreign objects, or tissues drying out, all of which are possible during hysterectomy surgery. These fibrous bands can entangle the bowel and lead to problems with evacuating, as well as significant pain.

4.   Injury to the Bowel

Since the uterus is very close to the bowel, it is possible that an accidental bowel perforation or injury can occur. If this is not caught immediately, the contents of the bowel can spill into the abdominal cavity in the weeks after the surgery. It leads to fever, pain and swelling of the abdomen, and must be treated as soon as possible.

5.   Endometriosis

Though a hysterectomy might relieve or lessen the pain of endometriosis, for some women the pain continues. That’s because endometrial cells don’t just grow in the uterus, but in areas around it as well. Due to those cells that remain, it feels like bowel pain can continue.

How to Deal with Bowel Pain After Hysterectomy

Bowel pain after the surgery means it’s time to seek help from your doctor. If it is determined that your pain is the result of constipation or some other complication that does not require surgery, there are some remedies you can try at home that will make you more comfortable.

  • ŸWatch what you eat. Foods that keep your bowel movements soft are best. These are high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Try drinking at least 50-67 ounces of fluid each day, or about two liters. This will help you cleanse the bowel and make your stool easier to pass. Having a warm drink first thing in the morning is recommended.
  • Get exercise. Though you might not feel like moving much, it’s important to at least take a casual stroll. This helps get the bowel moving.
  • Take your time. Do not rush to empty your bowels. Take your time on the toilet, and try not to strain, as this can lead to rectal issues that only increase the pain. When you feel the urge to go, go immediately.
  • ŸTake a laxative. Some patients might do very well with a mild laxative to help them with the bowel pain of hysterectomy. However, make sure your doctor is okay with the laxative before you take it.

Other Common Problems After Hysterectomy and Ways to Deal with Them

Sometimes other complications can arise after a hysterectomy. Here are some of them.

1.   Severe Gas Pain

It is quite common in the recovery of abdominal hysterectomy surgery. Bowel pain after hysterectomy can be attributed to this. Moving around frequently, rolling knees gently while on your back, consuming warm drinks and using warm packs over your abdomen can all help ease the pain of gas. At the same time, you need to avoid the gas-producing foods such as beans, cruciferous vegetables, etc.

2.   Weakness

After any surgery, you will lose some strength, and your fitness level will probably drop. A great deal of this is attributed to lying around during recovery; so once you are able to get moving a bit, try slowly walking a bit more each day. Start with only five minutes, and gradually increase that time each day. Don’t overdo it! Moving too much during those first few weeks can leave you feeling even weaker.

3.   Back Pain

Back pain is very common after hysterectomy. It might be caused by the position you were in during surgery, or perhaps from the positions you slept in on the bed after the surgery. It might be the result of decreased movement, or an unfamiliar bed. Gentle stretching, using a pillow under your knees when you lie down and moving around regularly can help alleviate the pain. 

Click here to learn more about hysterectomy recovery.

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