a woman transforming from a patient lying down to a woman walking on her feet

Getting Back On Your Feet After a Hysterectomy

Endometriosis is a medical condition that can cause pain, bloating, heavy and irregular periods, and other symptoms. The condition happens when uterine-like tissue grows outside of the uterus, forming lesions.1,2

A hysterectomy is a procedure to remove the uterus. Having a hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis. But it may remove endometrial tissue that is causing severe pain. The procedure is usually performed after less invasive treatments have failed. In the United States, about 300,000 people have hysterectomies every year.1,2

Types of hysterectomy

There are several kinds of hysterectomies that use different surgical approaches. Some types include:3

  • Total hysterectomy
  • Partial (supracervical) hysterectomy
  • Radical hysterectomy

Hysterectomies are usually done under general anesthesia. Surgical approaches (the way the surgeon will get to your uterus) may be:3

  • Through your vagina
  • Through your abdomen
  • Laparoscopically

A laparoscopic hysterectomy is when the surgeon makes small cuts (incisions) and uses them to insert a viewing tool (laparoscope) and other surgical tools into your abdomen.3

Most hysterectomies involve a hospital stay of a few days. The day after surgery, hospital staff will encourage you to take a short walk. This movement will keep your blood flowing and lower the risk of blood clots.3

Beginning your recovery

Most people recover from a hysterectomy in 4 to 6 weeks. But every person's timeline is different. Only you know how you are feeling during your recovery. Listening to what your body is telling you is key.1

You will have some vaginal bleeding and discharge after your hysterectomy. The discharge will be less than during a period but can last up to 6 weeks. Constipation and urinary tract infections can occur. These conditions are both easily treatable. Be sure to drink fluids and increase your fiber intake. This will help with both bowel and bladder issues.2

Mild to moderate pain is to be expected. Take the pain medicine your doctor has ordered, along with your usual drugs. If the pain medicine is not working, contact your doctor. Also let them know about any side effects.2

You can shower right away, but don't let the water hit your surgical incision. Keep the incision clean by gently washing it with soap and water. Check your incision daily to make sure there is no redness, swelling, or wound opening. If you see any of these, call your doctor right away.4

Also reach out if:4

  • Your temperature is more than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You have bright-red blood coming from your vagina
  • You are extremely nauseous or vomiting
  • You urinate often or it burns when you urinate

Your period and menopause

After a hysterectomy, you will stop getting your period. You will not need to use contraception to avoid pregnancy. But you can still get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms or dental dams can be used to protect against STDs.2

If your ovaries were removed, you will develop symptoms of menopause. These can include:1,4

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Lower sex drive

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) replaces the hormones that drop to lower levels after menopause. HRT can relieve symptoms, but there are risks. Your doctor can help you decide if HRT is right for you.1,5

Diet and physical activity

Eating a balanced diet will help with your post-surgery healing. Aim for a mix of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, and legumes (like peas or beans).4

Post-surgical rest is vital. Increase your activity gradually. If any kind of movement hurts, stop right away. At first, you will likely have to climb stairs 1 leg at a time. This will get easier as you heal. Do not lift anything heavier than 20 pounds for the first 6 weeks after surgery.4

You can drive after 2 weeks if you have stopped pain medicine. Just make sure you feel well enough. Do not drive if your reaction time is off or if you hesitate when braking or clutching.4

You should not insert anything into your vagina for 6 weeks after surgery. But a hysterectomy should not affect your ability to have a satisfying sex life.4

Your emotional recovery

After your hysterectomy, you may feel depressed or have a sense of loss. It may be difficult to concentrate or sleep. Your appetite may suffer. If your surgery results in menopause, those hormonal changes can affect your mood. During follow-up visits with your doctors, be honest about all parts of your recovery.2,4

Having a hysterectomy can also improve your sense of well-being. If you are no longer in pain, your life may be even more fulfilling. Just be patient with yourself as you go through this healing process.1,3

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