Recovering after a hysterectomy is a very personal experience which means that your experience will be unique and unlike anyone else’s. It is governed by a huge range of factors that include: how ill you have been leading up to your hysterectomy, how you react to anaesthetic, why you had your operation, what type of operation you had, your age, general fitness levels, how much support you have at home, the type of work you do and whether you have additional stressors to deal with (such as small children or dependent relatives). Of course this list is not exclusive and there may be other additional factors to take into account.
Because your recovery is governed by such a complex range of differing things, this means that there is no set guideline for when you should, or shouldn’t be doing any particular activities. You will recover at your own rate, and not one pre-determined by your doctor, gynaecologist, employer, friend or relations. In fact, expectations of recovery times can hinder rather than help.
- During your operation, you may well have been catheterised. It means that straight after the operation when you are at your most uncomfortable you do not have to worry about going to a toilet to pass urine; this will be simply passed into a bag at your side and emptied regularly by the nurses. It will be removed after the first 24 hours and is painless.
- Immediately after your hysterectomy you may find you are attached to a PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia), this is usually morphine. This means you will be in control of your own pain medication.
- Drink plenty of water, to replace that lost through the anaesthetic and operation. You will probably be attached to a saline drip to help you re-hydrate as well.
- You may have some slight vaginal bleeding; this is normal and should soon clear up.
- A mild and gentle laxative can help you to open your bowels, this will make you feel more comfortable. You might also have from trapped wind and indigestion due to lack of movement; this can be relieved by medication and/or by gentle exercise.
- Once you return home you must make sure that you are taking things easy (however what ‘easy’ is can be difficult to determine). Your hospital physiotherapist may give some exercises to do to help you get back to full mobility.
- As you shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy, such as shopping, for a while it is important that you have a support network around the help out. If you live alone and this isn’t possible ask your nurse for the details of the local support network that can help.
- Gentle walking, a little further each day, will help to get your circulation working properly and begin to eliminate any anaesthetic still lingering.
- A little back ache, discomfort in the abdomen, are common for the first few weeks after surgery. If you have a browny discharge this should change to creamy white. You may also notice that any internal stitches are passed out of the body as well.
- If you have any additional pain, pus, fresh blood or smelly discharge after you have returned home you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
- It is normally around six to twelve weeks before patients think about a return to work, however this will depend on the type of work that you do, for instance if you have to do heavy lifting or very physical work it may take a lot longer to recover fully enough to return.
101 Handy Hints for a Happy Hysterectomy – £7.00. This is our own best selling book written by Linda, CEO of the Hysterectomy Association. Jam packed full of useful hints, tips and advice for every stage of your hysterectomy from planning to getting back to work.
- The Pocket Guide to Hysterectomy – £5.50 from The Hysterectomy Association. This is essential reading and tell you everything you need to know about hysterectomy, it documents everything on the website, plus additional information not available elsewhere.