Recovering from surgery takes time, and a hysterectomy is no different.
If you’ve recently had a hysterectomy, you need to give yourself a chance to recoup. Here are some hysterectomy recovery tips to help you get feeling better.
Different Kinds of Hysterectomy Surgeries
The first thing to understand about recovering from a hysterectomy is that there are different surgical methods used and different types of surgeries, resulting in a difference in the recovery journey. These options can vary depending on the condition that’s being treated.
Here are the types of hysterectomy:1
- Total: removal of your uterus and your cervix, but not your ovaries.
- Supracervical: removal of the body of your uterus; your cervix is left intact.
- With oophorectomy: removal of your uterus, one or both of your ovaries, and sometimes your fallopian tubes.
- Radical: removal of your uterus, cervix, the top portion of your vagina, most of the tissue that surrounds the cervix, and sometimes the pelvic lymph nodes.
Here are the surgical methods:1
- Abdominal: The uterus is removed through the abdomen via a surgical incision about six to eight inches long.
- Vaginal: The uterus is removed through the vaginal opening.
- Laparoscopic: The uterus is removed through very small incisions on the lower abdomen, into which a laparoscope is inserted.
- Robotic: Four to five small incisions are made in the abdomen that allow slender robotic arms and tiny surgical tools to access the uterus.
Hysterectomy Recovery Tips
The time for recovery will vary depending on the type of surgery and the method used to remove your uterus. Laparoscopic surgery, for instance, may take less time for recovery than abdominal surgery; and if your ovaries are removed, you will experience menopause—if you haven’t already.
In general, here are hysterectomy recovery tips to help get you feeling better:
Rest: take the opportunity to recharge your batteries by giving yourself time to rest. Let family and friends look after you, or plan ahead by having meals prepared before you leave for the hospital. It’s perfectly normal to take naps as you recover. It’s best not to work or make decisions, as the lingering effects of anesthetics may impact your concentration. Work can wait.2
Walk regularly: this doesn’t mean you should do vigorous exercise. But it’s important to get up and walk about regularly. This will help with blood flow—and as a bonus should also help keep your bowels regular.2
Treat the pain: your doctor should give you medication to manage the pain that should be expected for a few days following surgery.3
Take care of the incision: you’ll get instructions when you’re discharged, so follow those and watch for signs of infection. Avoid swimming in pools, lakes and oceans.4
Don’t be alarmed: these are usual symptoms, so don’t be alarmed by the bleeding and discharge from your vagina for several weeks; constipation; short-term difficulty emptying your bladder.3
Abstain: besides taking time off from work, school or home responsibilities, you should also abstain from sex 3 and avoid lifting heavy objects—which includes no heavy housework, weight-lifting, strenuous exercise and even carrying your children— for six weeks.4
Eat healthy and drink lots of water: ease constipation by including fiber and fresh fruit in your diet.4 Smaller portions are a good idea too, since your activity will be limited.
Be patient with yourself. Recovery time will vary depending on your age and general health as well. Your doctor will provide advice on how much time you need for recovery.
See a Doctor
If you’ve had a hysterectomy, give yourself time to recover from your surgery. If you need advice, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health. In particular, see a doctor immediately if you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, start passing blood clots or have a strong-smelling discharge.5