What can I expect after my hysterectomy?
Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after a hysterectomy as smooth as possible.
How long will it take to recover?
You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.
In some cases, such as after a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy, you may be able to go home on the same day. You may need to stay up to six days in the hospital for more extensive procedures, such as an abdominal hysterectomy.
Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the specific procedure and type of anesthesia used, your general health, age, and other factors. Full recovery times range from about two to six weeks.
Will I feel pain?
Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your procedure. Your doctor and care team will manage your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Contact your doctor if your pain gets worse or changes in any way because it can be a sign of a complication.
When should I call my doctor?
It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after your surgery. Call your doctor if you have questions or concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:
Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing
Change in alertness, such as passing out, unresponsiveness, or confusion
Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations
Fever. A low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) is common for a couple of days after surgery and not necessarily a sign of a surgical infection. However, you should follow your doctor's specific instructions about when to call for a fever.
Inability to urinate or have a bowel movement
Leg pain, redness or swelling, especially in the calf, which may indicate a blood clot
Pain that is not controlled by your pain medication
Uncontrolled or heavy bleeding (hemorrhage)
Unexpected drainage, pus, redness or swelling of your incision
How might a hysterectomy affect my everyday life?A hysterectomy may cure your condition or reduce your symptoms so you can lead an active, normal life. For example, a hysterectomy may effectively treat heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and pain with sexual intercourse. You will still need to have regular pelvic exams and possibly Pap tests after a hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy can also cause significant changes to your body that may affect your everyday life such as:
Early menopause if both of the ovaries are removed with the uterus. Symptoms of early menopause can be severe and include vaginal dryness, painful sexual intercourse, sleep problems, hot flashes, and mood swings. Early menopause may be treated with hormone replacement therapy (estrogen therapy).
Loss of childbearing ability. Some women report feeling deep sense of loss after a hysterectomy, especially if they still planned to bear children. Tell your healthcare provider if you are concerned about these feelings.
Sexual changes. Some women report painful sex or a loss of orgasm during sex after a hysterectomy. See your healthcare provider if you have pain with intercourse or are not enjoying sex the way you used to.
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- Hysterectomy. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp008.cfm.
- Hysterectomy. Womenshealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/hysterectomy.cfm.
- Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf