What Causes Discharge Years After A Hysterectomy

A woman’s reproductive system is one of the most intricately designed areas of her body. Sometimes things fail to function properly, and medical attention is needed to correct the problem. These corrective measures can range from less invasive non-surgical procedures to a hysterectomy, which is the surgical removal of her uterus. Depending on the type of hysterectomy she requires, her fallopian tubes, cervix, and ovaries may also be eliminated.

Out of more than half a million hysterectomies done each year in this country, only about 10% are medically necessary and occur to treat endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, or another serious cancerous condition. This form of treatment is often recommended for women who are experiencing heavy bleeding, chronic pain in the pelvic region, and other symptoms that incapacitate them and prevent them from living their lives. Aside from cancer, many of these symptoms result from uterine fibroids or adenomyosis, which in many cases can be treated without removing the uterus or sacrificing future fertility.

Research has shown that a woman’s uterus is tied to the health of her heart and her mind and is not only meant as a means to reproduce. If this is true, why is hysterectomy used as a first-line treatment for so many benign conditions? The answer is that often, the doctor treating the woman is only able to offer surgery as a treatment because this is the only permanent solution they can provide.

Today we are going to talk about discharge, which is one of the side effects that can occur after having your uterus removed. We will discuss discharge immediately after the operation and what can cause discharge years after a hysterectomy. We will also provide some information on a procedure called uterine artery embolization (UAE), which can treat some benign conditions without surgery or removal of the uterus.

What Happens During A Hysterectomy?

When a woman’s uterus is removed from her body using a surgical procedure, this is known as a hysterectomy. Some forms of the surgery also include the removal of the cervix, one or both of her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and sometimes part of her vagina, depending on her condition.

The surgeon may use one of many different techniques, ranging from an open hysterectomy using a large abdominal incision to gain access to the surgical site to laparoscopic techniques where several smaller incisions made on the abdomen are used and the doctor uses a special instrument guided by real-time video to help them carry out the surgery. Laparoscopic techniques can be done through the abdomen or vagina, and in some cases, can be assisted by robotic arms.

What Happens After A Hysterectomy?

Depending on the technique used and the reproductive organs that were removed, fully recovering from a hysterectomy can take between six and ten weeks. The average patient spends at least a few days in the hospital and is then discharged with prescription medications to take for pain and to prevent infection. Most women feel pretty uncomfortable for at least the first two weeks, so the doctor normally recommends they spend the majority of their day resting. The doctor will provide a detailed set of aftercare directions based on the patient’s particular circumstances that should be followed to the letter to ensure proper and expedient healing. These instructions will cover everything from wound care (if applicable), activity restrictions, bathing when they can resume sexual activity and more.

Women may experience pink, red, or brown discharge immediately after a partial or total hysterectomy for several weeks after their surgery, and often this operation will jumpstart menopause as well as create other long-term side effects.

What Can Happen Long-Term?

Some of the residual effects of a hysterectomy are still unknown, but research has given us enough proof to warrant that a second look be taken at any benign condition for an alternate form of treatment that spares the uterus.

Heart Disease and Metabolic Concerns

A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, evaluated the records of over 2,000 hysterectomy patients (who kept their ovaries) over a 22-year time span to find out what long-term effects they may have encountered as a result of their surgery when compared against women of a similar age who still had their uterus. The team was surprised to discover that the women who no longer had their uterus had higher incidences of elevated cholesterol levels and blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, an irregular heartbeat, and heart disease. They also determined that the risk of these adverse events rose significantly for women who were under 35 years old when their hysterectomy was performed.

Vaginal Prolapse

Another side effect that can occur after a hysterectomy that many women are unprepared for is vaginal prolapse, which is when the vagina is displaced and begins to migrate out of its normal position and can even begin to protrude outside of the body. Sometimes, a prolapse will be asymptomatic, but other times it may involve vaginal discharge even years after a hysterectomy.

Besides all its other functions, the uterus provides a certain amount of structure to a woman’s reproductive system and the organs that surround it. When the uterus is removed, a significant part of this internal support is eliminated, and it can cause other organs to shuffle around and become displaced. This can be the beginning of a prolapsed bladder or vagina. Some signs that may indicate a prolapse include:

  • There is a feeling of heaviness in your pelvic area;
  • Sexual intercourse is uncomfortable or even painful;
  • You are having issues controlling your bladder or are having frequent urinary tract infections;
  • You have been having chronic lower back pain ever since your hysterectomy;
  • It feels like there is vaginal tissue protruding from your genital area, or this area is throbbing or inflamed.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Atlanta, GA

When Can Discharge After A Hysterectomy Be A Warning Sign?

While it is normal to experience bleeding and vaginal discharge after a hysterectomy, it can also be a sign that something else is going on.

It is important to pay attention to any other symptoms you may be having as well and make sure to report all of what you are experiencing to your doctor so they can determine the exact cause. Some of the things to look for that should be reported to your doctor include:

  • Smelly discharge years after hysterectomy. A foul-smelling discharge is a sign of an infection that will need to be treated;
  • You notice a distinct change in the way the discharge looks. For instance, it changes from the normal white discharge you have seen for years after your hysterectomy to a yellow discharge or a brown discharge;
  • A change in color, such as brown discharge after a hysterectomy, could indicate an infection that can become worse and possibly trigger a prolapse;
  • Pink or red discharge can be a sign of vaginal atrophy or another condition such as cancer, and if you experience a pink or red color of discharge months or years after a hysterectomy, you need to give your doctor a call;
  • If the texture of the discharge changes after a hysterectomy, it can also be a sign of a problem and should be reported to your doctor.

Some vaginal discharge after a hysterectomy is normal and to be expected, but it is important to pay attention to your body so you will know when something is off. Bringing anomalies to the attention of your doctor as soon as you notice them can give you peace of mind or help prevent a serious medical concern.

What Should Every Woman Know About Benign Uterine Conditions?

Several benign uterine conditions result in similar symptoms, which makes it a bit challenging when trying to uncover a source and provide a treatment. Some of the most common symptoms are heavy and prolonged bleeding during the woman’s menstrual cycle. This duo of doom often interferes in a woman’s career and social life either because they are unable to control their bleeding long enough to attend a meeting or social event or because they are so exhausted or feel faint from the loss of too much blood (anemia).

When these women seek help from their OB/GYN, they are often given a few options for treatment that are less than ideal. These options are normally temporary, cause significant side effects, or eliminate their ability to have children. The option they are rarely told about is called UAE or uterine artery embolization.

Here at the Atlanta Fibroid Center, we are trying to change that and have made it our mission to educate women about UAE so they can make a decision about their health armed with the knowledge of all their available choices and their long-term side effects. UAE is not surgery and preserves the uterus and future fertility possibilities.

While UAE cannot treat all of the underlying causes of heavy and prolonged bleeding, it is significantly effective in handling adenomyosis and uterine fibroids, which are some of the leading reasons women undergo hysterectomies today. Before you choose the right treatment for your set of symptoms, make sure you understand all your treatment options. Set up an appointment with the Atlanta Fibroid Center today to find out if UAE may be an effective treatment for you.

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