What to Expect After a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a frequently performed procedure on females. However, in many cases, even the patients themselves are not adequately informed about what to expect after a hysterectomy is performed.In an America Urogynecologic Society survey, it has shown 30 percent of the 1,200 women interviewed did not know that they would not have a period after a hysterectomy and 13 percent thought they would still be able to procreate. Thus while most females have known about it, the life after a hysterectomy is still not fully understood.

What to Expect After a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the womb. When a hysterectomy is performed, the ovaries may or may not be removed. No matter what kind of hysterectomy you have planned to do, the following will be experienced after the procedure.

1.   You Won't Have Periods or Children

The uterus is a pear-shaped organ found in the pelvic region of a female's body. It is about 7.5 cm (3 inches) long, 5 cm (2 inches) wide and 2.5 cm(1 inch) deep. It is a hollow structure with thick muscular walls. The lining of the uterus (endometrium) thickens with blood after your period as it gets ready to receive a fertilized egg (ovum). If the ovum is not fertilized, the lining will breakdown and a woman will experience menstruation. However, if the egg is fertilized, the endometrium will remain thick as it will assist in providing the developing baby with essential substances. With this being said, it will not be possible for a woman to have a period hence the woman cannot bear a child. This eliminates the need for contraception.

2.   There Will Be Scar or Not

There are five surgical options for a hysterectomy. The option that poses the highest risk for a noticeable scar is the traditional approach where the uterus is removed through a large incision made on the abdomen (usually along the bikini line). There are two laparoscopic procedures; one which is assisted by a vaginal incision, and another which only comprises incisions in the abdomen. Because the incisions in both instances are small, there may be minimal scarring, if any. The fourth option, robotic-assisted hysterectomy, involves small incisions to the abdomen which, just as the two latter mentioned procedures, may lead to minimal scarring. The fifth option vaginal hysterectomy does not involve incisions, as the uterus is removed through the vagina. This option would best suit the individual who desires absolutely no scars.

If a woman is prone to keloids, she should be aware of the heightened probability that they may develop that at the areas where the incisions are made. Laser treatments are now able to reduce scar tissue and shrink keloids.

3.   You May Experience Some Pain and Other Complications After the Surgery

Some women may feel very tired and have some amount of pain after their surgery. Whether or not this happens is dependent on the type of hysterectomy, the reason for the surgery and the overall health of the patient. Some persons may experience pain for as long as five weeks. Although most women do not have health problems related to a hysterectomy, some may experience:

  • Vaginal discharge (Brownish-red)
  • Pain when passing wind
  • Increase in body weight because of inactivity after surgery
  • Symptoms of menopause (anxiety, hot flashes, etc.)

There are a few complications that are less likely to occur like an infection, injury to the urinary tract, bowel obstruction, and issues with the anaesthesia, coagulation of blood in the veins or lungs and abnormal bleeding during or after the surgery.

4.   There Will Be Some Changes in Your Sex Life After a Hysterectomy

Sexual intercourse after a hysterectomy may become more enjoyable for some women as they no longer have to worry about conceiving a baby or they no longer have to worry about heavy bleeding. For those who experienced uterine contractions during an orgasm, they will now experience a different sensation. If the ovaries were removed, vaginal dryness may occur but this can be relieved with the use of a vaginal lubricant or the use of Oestrogen. It is critical to note, however, that a hysterectomy cannot prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), thus, a condom must be used as a means of protection.

5.   You May Have a Feeling of Loss and Sadness

The possibility of having these feelings is greatly impacted by the age of the woman and the reason why the hysterectomy is performed. Women who have kept anticipating pregnancy will no longer have that option. Others may feel that they have lost their "womanhood" and this may lead to depression. Older women and some younger women who have suffered through pain for too long are usually more accepting of the change than other women who only recently learned they need a hysterectomy.

While treatment may be needed to remedy some emotional problems, others can more easily be dealt with using a support group. All these negative feelings may be lessened, however, if you know exactly what to expect after a hysterectomy.

6.   It May Take Some Time to Get Back to Normal Life

Take some time to recover after the surgery is performed.

  • ŸIt is advised to restrain from activities that may cause tiredness or pain.
  • ŸIf you do not have a job that requires manual labour or lifting of heavy objects, you may return to work anywhere between 4-8 weeks.
  • ŸEnsure that you feel absolutely comfortable with driving before you undertake this task, especially since you must wear a seatbelt. It may need 3-8 weeks.
  • ŸAs soon as you are able, you are encouraged to walk as this provides exercise and once your wounds have healed, you may perform other activities such as swimming.

Ensure that the persons around you such as family/ friends are aware of what to expect after a hysterectomy, so they will be better prepared to adequately care for you while you are recovering.

There are more tips about hysterectomy recovery if you intend to do it:

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