Instructions after surgery typically encourage plenty of rest, but how much rest is too much?
Women who have had a hysterectomy need to give themselves time to heal, but does it hinder your healing to be too inactive? Are you wondering: How long can I sit after hysterectomy? Here are the answers.
What Kind of Hysterectomy Did I Have?
There are different forms of surgery when it comes to a hysterectomy, which in general is the surgical removal of your uterus:1
1. Total Hysterectomy: This is the most common type of surgery, in which your uterus and cervix are removed, but not your ovaries.
2. Supracervical Hysterectomy: Your uterus is removed, but your cervix is left intact.
3. Hysterectomy with Oophorectomy: Your uterus and one or both of your ovaries are removed, and sometimes your fallopian tubes are too.
4. Radical Hysterectomy: This is often an option for treating cancer, and involves removing your uterus, cervix, the top portion of your vagina, most of the tissue that surrounds the cervix, and sometimes the pelvic lymph nodes.
The type of hysterectomy can impact your recovery. There are also different methods for removing the uterus, which plays a part in your time for recovery.
You may have an incision in your abdomen; you may have your uterus removed through the vaginal opening, which does not require an external incision; you may have laparoscopic surgery, which uses very small incisions on the lower abdomen to remove the uterus; or you may have a robotic hysterectomy which has smaller incisions and less postoperative pain.1
These are all factors in your recovery process.
How Long Can I Sit After A Hysterectomy?
Following a surgery, doctors typically recommend rest, encouraging patients to restrict activities while they heal. Rest helps control pain and postoperative fatigue, and promotes healing. However, there is another body of evidence that runs counter to this opinion: that resuming activity in a controlled way can restore function, rather than delay recovery.2
Added to that is the fact that hospital stays are generally shorter than they used to be. That means less extended bed rest, so doctors often give advice on what activities to avoid, rather than suggest no activity at all. In the case of a pelvic surgery, you should avoid anything that might impact healing.2
So how long can you sit after a hysterectomy? Doctors recommend that you avoid sitting or lying in bed for more than 2 hours at a time while you are awake. This is largely to reduce your risk of blood clots.3
You will receive advice on caring for the wound, and on managing pain. You should generally expect it to take anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks to recover. That will vary depending on the type of surgery, with an abdominal hysterectomy taking a longer time for recovery than a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy.4
As well, doctors provide the following guidelines for recovery:
- No heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling for 6 weeks—that means you should not lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds, including kids, pets, laundry and groceries. It also means don’t vacuum, or push heavy doors or grocery carts—among other strenuous activities—for 6 weeks.3
- Don’t put anything in your vagina for at least 6 weeks after surgery, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. That means no sex, and do not use a tampon or douche for 6 weeks.3
You should also expect other changes. For instance, depending on the condition that led to the hysterectomy, you will feel relief from the pain or other side effects of that condition. As a result, your quality of life may improve. You will no longer have periods, and you won’t be able to get pregnant. If you had your ovaries removed, you will experience menopausal symptoms.5
Some women experience a sense of loss after a hysterectomy, or grieve the loss of fertility. If sadness or negative feelings are dominating your thoughts, see a health care provider for help and advice.5
See a Doctor
If you’ve had a hysterectomy, don’t sit for long periods of time. Stay active after the surgery, but avoid strenuous physical activity for the first 6 weeks.5 Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health for more advice. In particular, see a doctor immediately if you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, start passing blood clots or have a strong-smelling discharge.4