Hysterectomy Recovery

When you have a hysterectomy, they will be removing your uterus. This is the organ that holds a growing baby when you are pregnant. They take out the entire uterus and one or more of the ovaries and fallopian tubes depending on why you are having a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is permanent and you will no longer have periods and can no longer have kids.

It is important to know that a hysterectomy is considered major surgery and you will most likely spend at least one night in the hospital, or maybe a few nights. A few people even get sent home the same day as surgery. Wherever you are, you need to get your rest and give your body plenty of time to recover. Your body will let you know when it is ready by your pain level and will also let you know when you have done too much. This article will give you helpful information on how long it takes to recover and things you can do to make your recovery easier.

What to Expect During Hysterectomy Recovery

The time periods to recover from hysterectomy vary according to the type of surgery you have:

  • Open Incision Abdominal Hysterectomy – This is where they make a full incision across your belly and remove your uterus. This surgery usually requires a hospital stay of 2 to 3 days and 6 to 8 weeks to recover after you go home. You will need to rest a lot the first few weeks and avoid heavy lifting during the entire recovery time. Your doctor will probably release you to full activities around 6 weeks. Ask your doctor when it is okay to return to sexual activity.
  • Laparoscopic Hysterectomy – The doctor will make a few small incisions in the vagina and use a laparoscope to remove the uterus through the vagina. This is less invasive and faster recovery. You may be able to go home from the hospital the day of surgery and back to regular activities in around two weeks. Your doctor will still want you to avoid sexual activity for six weeks after surgery and heavy lifting.
  • DaVinci Robotic Hysterectomy – The robot has arms that the surgeon directs to do the procedure. There are very few small incisions and the uterus is removed vaginally. It does require a short overnight hospital stay. At home, you will still need around a 6-week recovery time and have the same activity restrictions as any other hysterectomy. Many women say this procedure is next to painless during recovery.

Possible Side-Effects During Hysterectomy Recovery

1.       Gas/Bloating

You will feel painful gas that moves through your abdomen, chest and up to your shoulders. This is eased by walking and moving around the first few days.

2.       Reddish Discharge

You will have slight reddish discharge the first few days and will need to wear a pad right after your surgery. The discharge will then turn a brownish color and taper off over about four weeks. Call your doctor if your discharge has a bad odor.

3.       Symptoms of Menopause

If you have one or both ovaries removed, you will most likely have symptoms of menopause in the first 3 to 4 days after surgery. Symptoms include sweating, hot flashes, mood swings, and feeling sad.

4.       Weight Changes

Some women lose extra weight, while some women gain weight after a hysterectomy. The initial weight gain may be due to bedrest and limited activity during the hysterectomy recovery phase. It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet during recovery and avoid strenuous exercise until you are cleared by your doctor.

Watch out for complications and call your doctor right away if you experience the following:

  • Pain and redness in the calf (Sign of blood clot)
  • Signs of infection (Fever over 100.4 F, foul discharge)
  • Heavy bleeding
  • No bowel movement after 3 days
  • Trouble urinating

Things to Facilitate Hysterectomy Recovery

The following tips can help you to recover from hysterectomyfaster. Try these things to ease your discomfort:

1.     Eat a Healthy Diet

Include protein to help your body heal the incisions faster. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to give your bowels the fiber they need to keep moving, and drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day.

2.     Ask About Bathing

Make sure you understand how your doctor wants you to bathe while your incisions are still open. You may need to take a sponge bath the first few days, then take showers, and wait on bathing in a tub for the first four weeks. Getting your incisions too wet can put you at risk for infection.

3.     Take Care of Your Incisions

Keep your incisions very clean and make sure they are dry. Wash then with warm soapy water, rinse, and pat dry. Look at the incisions and make sure there is no redness or drainage. You should not insert anything into your vagina since the cervical opening will be stitched closed. These stitches need time to heal.

4.     Prepare Your Home

The following things may help with hysterectomy recovery once you are home and resting:

  • If you have a two-story house, try to make a nest for yourself on the first floor with everything you need to avoid climbing up and down stairs too much.
  • Find a good bedside table that will fit over your lap. This will prevent you from having to turn side to side.
  • Install bars in your shower and next to your toilet to help you get up and down easier.
  • A shower bench helps you to sit and rest while in the shower.
  • Use a grabbing stick to grab things instead of reaching for them.
  • Invest in a good body pillow or rolled blankets for side-sleeping.
  • Make a “sock rice bag” that you heat in the microwave. You can even put it in the freezer for long-lasting cool. You can use this to alternate hot and cold on your incisions.
  • Invest in some comfy nightgowns. You won’t want to wear pants until your incisions heal due to rubbing and friction.

A Word About Using Birth Control in the Future

After a hysterectomy, you don’t need birth control any longer. Keep in mind that you can still get sexually transmitted diseases. Always use a condom if you are not in a long-term committed relationship. 

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