One of the things that women worry most about is what to expect after a hysterectomy. Whether your hysterectomy is a choice or a life-saving operation, we know that the days and months following a hysterectomy can be a highly emotional and confusing time for you.
In this post, we’ve broken down what to expect in a simple, step-by-step manner to ease your concerns and prepare you for a smooth recovery.
When You Wake Up At the Hospital
You will probably have a catheter to drain urine until you can easily pass it and are able to walk to the toilet to urinate.
Your body requires a lot of energy for healing, so you may feel very tired and emotional. You may need to take a nap or two for the first few days at the hospital. Avoid sleeping on your stomach after hysterectomy. It can cause problems with your spine and put too much pressure on your hips. The best sleeping position after hysterectomy is on your side or on your back. And the better you sleep, the more quickly you will recover!
While you’re at the hospital, the staff will keep an eye out for any complications like bowel blockage, blood clots, severe infection, bleeding after surgery, urinary tract injury, or problems related to anesthesia. These are uncommon, so don’t worry too much about them. Your providers will take good care of you and know how to address any issues that come up.
24 Hours After a Hysterectomy
Most anesthetics wear off quickly, so you shouldn’t experience any after-effects for more than 24 hours after surgery. However, you may feel sleepier than usual and have impaired judgment, so don’t plan on making important decisions until the anesthesia wears off.
The incision sites may be red, bruised, swollen, itchy, or burn. You can use lotions and creams to relieve itching.
The day you’re discharged from the hospital
After a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy, you should be able to leave the hospital between 1 and 4 days after the procedure.
After an abdominal hysterectomy, it may be as many as five days before they discharge you.
When that day comes, you’ll need to have an adult drive you home.
Expect to feel tired and emotionally drained. You can increase your activity level a little each day as tolerated.
At this point, do not place anything in your vagina, including sex toys and tampons, and you’ll have to abstain from having sex for a period of time.
When you’re ready, you can take a bath or shower. Wash the incision with soap and water.
2 Weeks After Surgery
If the surgeon closed the incision with staples, then it’s time to have them removed.
When you feel capable and no longer require narcotic pain medications, you can drive again.
Light swimming in a swimming pool is OK.
You may now experience menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings if you were pre-menopausal prior to a total hysterectomy. These symptoms can be treated with hormone replacement therapy.
4 to 6 Weeks After a Hysterectomy
You’ll be glad to know that most women start feeling a whole lot better during this time period!
You will likely have a follow-up appointment with your doctor so that they can make sure that you are healing correctly.
Your incision site should be completely healed. If your incision was closed using stitches, they should dissolve by week 6.
Although your periods will stop, you may still feel bloated and have other symptoms like those you had when you were menstruating. Any light vaginal bleeding or dark brown discharge should stop by the six week mark.
You can safely travel out of town, including air travel.
Vigorous swimming is now OK.
You may now lift objects over 10 pounds.
You can begin to douche again.
You can resume normal activities if the procedure was performed vaginally or through the laparoscope.
Depending on how you feel, you may be able to resume your exercise routine!
You should also be able to resume having sexual intercourse six weeks after surgery or as directed by your provider. Although you’ll no longer need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy, you’ll still need to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
You and your doctor will ultimately decide when you’re ready to go back to work. Most women can get back to work within six weeks.
2 Months After a Hysterectomy
If you’ve had a numb feeling around the incision and down your leg, normal sensations should resume.
3-6 Months After Surgery
If you’re still feeling fatigued or emotional, you’re not alone. Research has shown that fatigue is the most common, debilitating, and longest-lasting symptom that women have after a hysterectomy. On average, women experience fatigue for three months after surgery, but some women have reported feeling tired for up to six months after the operation.
Up to a Year After a Hysterectomy
You may experience some slight period-like bleeding. This is your body shedding the final bit of the endometrial lining, and it should resolve itself.
When to Call the Doctor if You’ve Had a Hysterectomy
Recovering from a hysterectomy takes time. Your body and emotions will go through an incremental healing process. However, there are times when you should call a doctor:
- If you have bright red vaginal bleeding.
- If you get a fever over 100°F.
- If severe nausea or vomiting
- If you have difficulty urinating, a burning feeling during urination, or frequent urination.
- If the pain is increasing rather than decreasing.
- If your incision gets redder, swells up, or drainage increases.
Some women find that a hysterectomy improves their sex life, health, and wellbeing. Others may feel a sense of loss, feel less womanly than before, or fall into depression. Feeling emotional or teary is often the last symptom to pass.
Give yourself the time and space you need to emotionally heal. Go easy on yourself and do your best to ask for support when you need it.
We’re here to support you after a hysterectomy.
Our holistic approach treats the whole person – your body, mind, and spirit. Having this type of support after a hysterectomy can make your healing process more comfortable and get you feeling better faster. Contact us for a consultation today!