What To Expect After A Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus through surgery. Each year in the United States, over half a million women lose their uterus. The unfortunate part of this is that 90% of these women may have been able to avoid hysterectomy surgery because only a small percentage of these surgeries are medically necessary.

Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery performed on women, and there are different types of hysterectomies and various ways this procedure can be carried out. Today we will talk about these different scenarios and what to expect after a hysterectomy surgery.

The Difference In Hysterectomy Types And Techniques

Hysterectomies are done for different reasons, and these normally dictate the extent of the surgery. A partial hysterectomy (supracervical hysterectomy) involves the removal of the upper portion of the uterus, and the cervix is left undisturbed. During a full hysterectomy, both the uterus and the cervix are surgically removed, and a radical hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.

Uterus removal surgery can be done through different procedural techniques, including:

  • Traditional abdominal: A larger surgical incision is made, and the uterus is removed through “open” surgery. The surgeon has good visibility of all the organs in the area, so it is a good technique for those with a larger uterus or complex cases. This is the most invasive of the techniques and comes with more prominent scarring and a longer, more complicated recovery;
  • Laparoscopic: Several smaller incisions are made in the abdomen, and a laparoscope is used to visualize and remove the uterus. It is less invasive, requires a shorter recovery time, and results in reduced scarring. It is normally used for cases that are not complex and in which the uterus is of normal size. This technique can also be used with robotic assistance, where the surgeon’s movements control a set of robotic arms;
  • Vaginal: This procedure involves the removal of the uterus through the vagina without the need for any external incisions. This is considered the least invasive method, offering no visible scarring, a shorter hospital stay, and a faster recovery. It is not suitable for all cases and does not offer the same scope of visibility or access for the surgeon.

What To Expect After Different Types Of Hysterectomies

Recovery, side effects, risk factors, and potential complications can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and the technique used to complete it. While there will be some similarities, what to expect after a partial hysterectomy is going to be somewhat different than what to expect after a full hysterectomy.

Universal Post-Hysterectomy Expectations

Any type of hysterectomy is considered major surgery and has the potential for serious complications, and regardless of the hysterectomy type or the method used, there will be some changes and aspects of recovery that are the same. The intensity of these changes or side effects may differ in relation to the length and degree of the surgery performed.

  • You will wake up in a recovery room and spend some time under observation. Your vitals will be monitored, and you may have a catheter in until you are able to walk around and get yourself to the bathroom. The medical team will keep any pain managed while you are in recovery;
  • It is normal to be sluggish and drowsy for some time while waking up from the anesthesia. Some patients also experience other side effects from the sedation, such as nausea and vomiting, which will normally go away on their own;
  • It is normal to experience discharge after a hysterectomy that may continue for several weeks, and you may require a sanitary pad during that time;
  • You will be given prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications, complete with instructions on their use;
  • Your surgeon will provide you with a comprehensive set of aftercare directions that are specific to your circumstances. These instructions will include lifting restrictions for several weeks, so you may need to acquire help with children, pets, or household tasks;
  • After any type of hysterectomy, you will no longer be able to get pregnant;
  • Once your uterus is taken out, you may enter menopause. If your ovaries are removed during your hysterectomy, you will be fast-tracked into menopause and can experience very severe symptoms. Sometimes, ovaries left in place during a hysterectomy fail, which prompts the early onset of menopause.
  • Some women experience depression after having their uterus removed. They may have to become pregnant, which is no longer possible, or they may feel as if their femininity has been taken;
  • Many women deal with constipation for several weeks because the surgery and the use of pain medication slow down the bowels;
  • Women who were surveyed after having a hysterectomy reported a loss of sexual pleasure in many ways as well as other areas;
  • Once your uterus is removed, you may be at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and memory-related issues.

What To Expect After A Partial Hysterectomy

In addition to the information listed above, you can expect that you may be in the hospital for a day or two, although some women are released to go home the same day.

  • You will find relief from symptoms such as heavy bleeding during your period and pelvic pain, and cramping. A small percentage of women continue to experience abdominal cramping and pain even years after a hysterectomy;
  • Your cervix is left in place, so you will still need regular pap tests to screen for cancer;
  • It will take you around six weeks to fully recover and return to your normal schedule and activities;
  • You may contract a urinary tract infection in the weeks following your hysterectomy;
  • You may experience a loss in sexual function.

What To Expect After A Full Hysterectomy

  • You can expect to spend a few nights in the hospital;
  • You may encounter some pain and bloating during the first few weeks;
  • You will no longer experience prolonged and excessive bleeding each month because you will no longer menstruate;
  • You may experience bladder and bowel issues;
  • 25% of women get a UTI after their hysterectomy;
  • Up to 66% of women reported a loss of sexual desire;
  • 53% of women reported they no longer could orgasm after their hysterectomy.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization in Atlanta, GA

What To Expect After An Abdominal Hysterectomy

  • You should plan to stay in the hospital for several days;
  • You can expect to have an incision that runs horizontally around your bikini line and possibly a vertical incision from your navel down to meet the bikini line incision depending on the nature of your hysterectomy;
  • The incisions will be sore and will require some daily maintenance;
  • You may have incisional drains to help mitigate fluid buildup;
  • You may experience a bladder infection;
  • It may take up to eight weeks before you can resume your normal schedule.

What To Expect After A Vaginal Hysterectomy

  • This is considered the least invasive technique and has the shortest recovery time, and patients may go home the same day or spend a short time in the hospital;
  • You will wake up in recovery with gauze in the vaginal cavity to help absorb fluids resulting from surgery;
  • Your vagina will be sutured with stitches that dissolve on their own in a few weeks;
  • You may experience some mild pain and bloating in the lower abdomen;
  • It is normal to have bloody discharge after a vaginal hysterectomy, which may last for a few weeks;
  • It takes between three and six weeks to get your strength back and resume your normal routine. You should not have intercourse until you have cleared it with the doctor, which is normally around six weeks.

What To Expect After A Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

  • Most women have to stay in the hospital for at least one night;
  • You will have four or five small abdominal wounds from the incisions used for the laparoscopic entry, and you will most likely have some scarring;
  • You can expect tenderness around the incision sites;
  • Many women are bloated for a few days or weeks and may experience shoulder pain from the gas that was used during surgery to open up the abdomen for the procedure;
  • It will take you about six weeks to fully heal, and before the surgeon can clear you for resuming strenuous activities.

Why Are There So Many Hysterectomies Every Year?

Hysterectomies are performed as a treatment for many health issues that pertain to the female reproductive system. Conditions such as endometriosis, uterine prolapse, cancer, adenomyosis, and uterine fibroids can cause terrible symptoms such as heavy bleeding that lasts abnormally long, severe cramping, pressure, uterine enlargement, anemia, infertility, and more.

Most women don’t understand at first that these symptoms are not normal and that they need to seek medical help. Often, when they do seek help initially, they are dismissed or not taken seriously. When they finally get to the end of their rope, they find a doctor who will really look into what is going on, and they receive a diagnosis.

The most common culprit for these awful symptoms is uterine fibroids; these benign uterine growths cause women to seek help from their OB/GYN more than any other condition. When they can no longer handle the debilitating symptoms and they see their OB/GYN, they are often told they need a hysterectomy if they want to get rid of all the fibroids and their symptoms. It is true that a hysterectomy will get rid of fibroids; however, it also comes with many adverse side effects, both now and later.

As we stated previously, many women experience sexual dysfunction after undergoing a hysterectomy, and so their relationships and marriages suffer. Ongoing research has discovered that the uterus is tied to a variety of other women’s physical and mental health issues, so removing it increases her risk for future problems.

Most women do not know that they have another option that will eliminate fibroids and is also effective in treating adenomyosis. Most of the time, they are not presented with this option by their OB/GYN because this treatment does not involve surgery and is not done by an OB/GYN. UFE (uterine fibroid embolization) is an outpatient procedure that is done by an interventional radiologist who is specially trained. There is no hospital stay involved, no reproductive organs are removed, and most women are back to their normal routine within a week.

If you are suffering from adenomyosis or fibroids, set up a consultation today with the Atlanta Fibroid Center. We have been helping women from Atlanta and all over the globe for over 25 years to become free from debilitating symptoms that are impeding their personal and professional lives. UFE allows you to keep your uterus and your fertility while safely and effectively eliminating the root cause.

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