Having a hysterectomy is a big deal. Whether you’ve made the decision yourself, or have had to have a hysterectomy due to medical reasons, it’s normal to feel anxious about the prospect of losing your reproductive organs.
If you’re planning to have a hysterectomy, knowing what to expect can help ease your apprehension about the procedure. Let’s take a quick look at the most common questions we hear from women about what to expect after their surgery.
What happens immediately after surgery?
After your hysterectomy, you will probably wake up feeling groggy. This is normal after anaesthetic. You may also feel a bit of pain, and you will be given appropriate painkillers to manage your discomfort.
You will also have:
- Dressings on your wounds
- A drip in your arm
- A catheter to drain urine from your bladder
- Pack inserted in your vagina (if you have had a vaginal hysterectomy) to minimise your bleeding
- If you have had an abdominal hysterectomy, you may also have a drainage tube in your abdomen to keep blood from pooling in your pelvis.
Will I feel much pain after surgery?
The amount of pain you feel will depend on the type of hysterectomy you’ve had. Hysterectomies performed via laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) and vaginal hysterectomy are the least invasive procedures, which means there are hardly any pain compared with open surgery.
Make sure that you communicate with the medical staff caring for you. Managing your pain is part of the healing process – there are no special awards for putting up with it! It’s our priority to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.
How soon can I start moving around?
You can start moving around a day after your surgery, it’s a good idea to start by taking gentle, short walks. Your nurse will advise when it is safe for you to get up and about. Walking helps to promote normal blood flow, which is not only good for wound healing, but also helps reduce your risk of developing blood clots.
Will I have vaginal bleeding after my hysterectomy?
It’s normal to experience a bit of vaginal discharge and bleeding for the first few weeks after your surgery. This will lessen as time goes by, but might last for up to 6 weeks.
If your bleeding is heavy, you start passing blood clots, or if your discharge smells really strong and unpleasant, visit your GP, or make an appointment to see us at Northside Gynaecology to assess what’s going on.
What about going to the toilet?
After your hysterectomy, you will be missing some organs, which means the other organs in your abdomen will move as they find their resting spot. You might experience some changes in your bowel and bladder habits as things settle down.
It’s also quite common to feel cramps and ‘wind pains’ in your abdomen for the first few days after surgery, and to not pass any fecal matter. Plenty of water and gentle walking can help with this.
You might also get constipated, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids, and increase fruit and fibre in your diet. Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist.
How long will it take to recover from my hysterectomy?
How long you take to recover depends on the type of hysterectomy you’ve had.
Most women go home 2-3 days after surgery, but complete recovery can take 6-8 weeks. It’s important that you rest during your healing period. No housework, strenuous exercise, or heavy lifting! No penetrative sex either for 6 weeks – try exploring other ways to be intimate instead.
This procedure is less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy, so the healing period is shorter. You’ll usually come home from hospital 1-2 days after your surgery, and recovery can be as short as two weeks. The 6-week ‘no sex’ rule still applies though.
Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure, so the recovery time for this procedure is also short. Similar to vaginal hysterectomy, you’ll be out of hospital within 1-2 days, and be able to gently start resuming daily activities within 2 weeks.
When can I drive again after a hysterectomy?
You must NOT drive for 24 hours after taking anaesthetic. So make sure you organise someone to pick you up when you’re discharged from the hospital.
You cannot drive until you are able to operate the vehicle safely, are not affected by painkillers, and are able to control the car in an emergency situation. This could be anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after your hysterectomy.
It’s best to wait until your surgeon has cleared you for driving. Some insurance policies require a letter from the surgeon – make sure you check you’re covered before getting behind the wheel.
How soon can I return to work?
Your hysterectomy method, and your line of work, will determine how long you’ll need to stay off work, anything between 2-6 weeks.
Getting a hysterectomy is usually the last thing any woman wants to do. But if you’re having severe pain, discomfort, uterine bleeding, or other complications, it can be a load off your shoulders, and we can help.
Hysterectomies are life-changing surgeries, and may provide tremendous relief from your symptoms. This is especially true if many other treatment options have been unsuccessful.
To book an appointment with one of our caring gynaecologists at Kedron, Caboolture and our North Lakes suites, click this link.