Recovering from a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure, which should not be underestimated. These days, doctors will try to operate using the least invasive method possible. No matter the method used though, the path to recovery will be a slow one. Expect to be out of commission for at least six weeks, longer if you had an abdominal hysterectomy.

Rest, rest, rest

The key to a successful recovery is rest. For the first few days, don’t even attempt to climb the stairs. Make sure you have all that you need by your bed and have someone at home who can help you with meals and fetching things you may need. Before your surgery, lay everything out at waist height so you don’t have to reach or bend down. You want to avoid using your abdominal muscles as much as possible.

Take it slow

Slowly increase your activity – the key word being slow. You cannot hasten your recovery, and trying to do too much too soon will set you back for weeks. You will have pain from the surgery, but you will also be very tired as your body is using all its energy to heal itself.

Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the first four weeks; after that, check with your doctor when you can start lifting heavier objects. Do try to move a little each day; the movement will ensure your body heals better.

Focus on emotional healing

You may experience a number of emotional symptoms as well. I was happy to get rid of my uterus, but not everyone feels this way. You may feel a sense of loss. It’s perfectly normal to feel down after the procedure: even though your endometriosis symptoms may be better, you have still lost a significant part of your body. If the sadness gets too much, do talk to a health professional to get some help.

If you also had your ovaries removed during the hysterectomy, you will experience surgical menopause. You can expect to feel the symptoms of menopause as soon as a few days after surgery, as your body will not produce estrogen and testosterone any longer. Talk to your doctor about hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), if he/she thinks that is appropriate for you. Alternatively, there are also good herbal remedies out there.

Be kind to yourself

Your recovery is unique to you. Some people recover within six weeks, it took me nine weeks to get back to work, and even then I went part time in the beginning. Your health is more important than anything else, so ensure you don’t go back to work until you are ready for it.

It is tempting to think that you should be recovered when your external scars are healed. But especially when you have had a laparoscopy or a laparoscopically-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH), you will have minimal external scars. Most of the “damage” will be on the inside. Listen to your body, and remember that you are the only one who knows how fast you are recovering.

Keep doing your Kegels

Once you are fully recovered, and with the approval of your doctor, start doing your Kegels. Your pelvic floor muscles are more important after you have had a hysterectomy, so make sure you do your exercises every day. Take it easy to begin with, and stop if you feel pain, but build the exercises up over time.

Life after a hysterectomy does not have to be problematic; ensuring you recover properly will set you on a path of success.

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