11 Tips for Recovering from a Hysterectomy

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Megan Freedman on November 8, 2020
  • Hands on Stomach
    Making a Plan for Hysterectomy Recovery
    No matter the reason for your hysterectomy—uterine fibroids, endometriosis, painful periods, or cancer—it is major surgery. Depending on your overall health and the surgical approach your surgeon uses for the operation, hysterectomy recovery can take several weeks to several months. Here's what to expect after a hysterectomy, with a game plan for how to handle everything from pain to emotional ups and downs.
  • Couple Smiling
    1. Get some exercise and sunshine.
    Moderate exercise is one of the most important things you can do while recovering from hysterectomy. When you feel up to it, take walks. Moving around and getting your heart rate up strengthens the muscles in your pelvic area, helps prevent deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in your legs or lungs), relieves gas pains and constipation, and helps you feel more empowered to recover.
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    2. Stay ahead of your pain.
    Hysterectomy can cause significant pain and soreness in your lower abdomen for several weeks. Your doctor will prescribe medication to relieve your pain. Be sure to take it as prescribed, and right on time. If you wait until you are in severe pain to take your medicine, it can take much longer for you to feel its soothing effects.
  • Woman Sleeping
    3. Rest, rest, and more rest.
    It’s worth repeating—hysterectomy is a major surgery, and it can really take it out of you. You will feel very tired the days right after the surgery because of the anesthesia. Then you will feel tired for weeks and maybe months later as your body heals and adjusts. The more rest you can get, the more time your body has to recover.
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    4. Prevent and treat constipation.
    Anesthesia, pain medication, and lower activity levels can all slow down your bowel movements. It’s important to keep things moving because constipation (and later treatment for it) can be very uncomfortable. Drink several glasses of water per day, get up and move around when you can, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and use stool softeners and laxatives as necessary.
  • Doctor with Patient
    5. Baby your incision.
    The nurses at the hospital will tell you how to wash and care for your incision (whether vaginal or abdominal) so that it can heal as quickly as possible. Follow their instructions to the letter because if germs get in and infect your incision, your doctor may have to reopen it and clean it out, or you may have to take medication to prevent the spread of infection.
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    6. Buy some loose, stretchy and stylish clothing.
    It will take a little extra effort to feel comfortable and feel like yourself again while recovering from pelvic surgery. Make sure you have a few pairs of loose stretchy pants and a few dresses to help you feel comfortable and look your best. Stylish loose-fitting clothing will keep pressure off your belly and your incision and make it easy to relax, nap, and feel a little like your self again.
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    7. Don’t wait to call the doctor if you are concerned.
    If you spike a fever, feel confused, have difficulty breathing, have uncontrollable bleeding or pain, or notice something wrong with your incision, call your doctor right away. If you try to tough out something like this, you may delay your recovery or risk having an emergency. The quicker you get treatment for anything out of the ordinary, the sooner you’ll feel better and be able to continue on your path back to everyday living.
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    8. Eat healthy and delicious food.
    Anyone going through a major surgery like hysterectomy might crave “comfort foods.” A little chocolate is ok, but try to eat mostly healthy foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken, beans and fish can help you in several ways. Eating well can prevent weight gain while your activity levels are low, banish constipation, provide energy to recover, and keep your mood stable and positive.
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    9. Let loved ones help.
    If you’re like many women, you’re used to being in charge of your life and your home. But recovering from a hysterectomy is one of those times to let other people help. If anyone asks if they can bring over food, watch your children, walk your dog, clean your house, or make you some tea, say yes! It makes people feel good to help, and it will make you feel good too. Soon enough, you’ll be on the helping end again.
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    10. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend.
    Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery for women in the United States. But that doesn’t mean it’s a breeze. Many women feel uneasy or sad about no longer having a major female organ, feel severe effects of hormonal fluctuations, or find that recovery takes longer than they expected. Reach out and talk to people in online support groups, with a therapist, or with friends or family members who have had a hysterectomy. They will understand how you feel and show you that life goes on.
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    11. Pace yourself to ride out hormone changes.
    If your ovaries are removed along with your uterus during your hysterectomy, you will begin menopause immediately. That may bring on mood swings, hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, and other effects. Work with your doctor to decide if you would like hormone replacement therapy or other treatment to help with your symptoms—and know that this too shall pass!
11 Tips for a Safe Hysterectomy Recovery | What to Expect Afterwards
  1. Hysterectomy – Recovery. National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hysterectomy/Pages/Recovery.aspx
  2. Hysterectomy Fact Sheet. WomensHealth.gov. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/hysterectomy.html
  3. Hysterectomy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq008.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20131120T1205098736
  4. Recovering Well – Information for you after an abdominal hysterectomy. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/AbdominalHysterectomyRecoveringWell0710.pdf
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 8
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.