hysterectomy recovery woman
Incontinence,  Menopause

Hysterectomy Recovery: What To Expect

A hysterectomy is a serious procedure, so why is the hysterectomy recovery process sometimes so short or sped up? After all, this is the removal of a uterus we’re talking about. Of course, the recovery time depends on the specific woman, as well as the type of hysterectomy. Here’s a quick guide on what you can expect during the recovery portion after a hysterectomy.

Types of Hysterectomies

First things first, there are actually different types of hysterectomies, and some are more invasive than others.

  • Abdominal hysterectomy: This may be the most invasive procedure, and it certainly has the recovery time to prove it. Complete hysterectomy recovery may take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Vaginal or laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy: Less surgically invasive than the abdominal hysterectomy, the recovery type for this form of hysterectomy is as short as two weeks.
  • Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy: This form of hysterectomy is considered the least invasive of all hysterectomies. The hysterectomy recovery period ranges from 6 days to 2 weeks.
  • Robotic hysterectomy: This procedure consists of small incisions that heal soon enough for some women to go home the next day.

Pain, Eating, and Going Number 2

Most doctors do hysterectomies on an outpatient basis, so women can expect to go home in a day or two. However, there’s something you should know. The effects of anesthesia and the manipulation of your organs that are common during the procedure can make you intolerant to food for a few days. In addition, it can make going number 2 feel practically impossible.

In terms of pain, the procedure that women report they feel the most pain in post-op is the abdominal hysterectomy. However, many patients receive pain-treating medication that kicks in greatly for the first 24 hours post-op. Afterward, simple over the counter pain meds can work just as well for fighting painful flare-ups.

Full Hysterectomy Recovery and Side Effects

After a vaginal hysterectomy, some women have reported light bleeding and pain in the lower belly. This is entirely normal. Some women have also reported pelvic weakness, which can lead to bladder leaks and drips. The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take if you start to experience bladder leaks (aka incontinence). One option is bladder leak pads or underwear from Lily Bird, which are delivered to your door on whatever schedule you need.

In addition, there are some long-term effects that come with surgery, such as the inability to get pregnant, the end of the menstrual period, and in some cases, if the ovaries are removed, the quick start of menopause. Some of the most recommended things to avoid after a hysterectomy include heavy lifting, strenuous activities and exercise, and, most importantly, no sex. It is crucial to remember that nothing goes in your vagina (including tampons or anything of the sort) for at least the next 6 to 8 weeks.

For a Healthy Hysterectomy Recovery

If you have to have a hysterectomy, we’re sure you’ll be aiming for a healthy hysterectomy recovery. Here are some tips for a healthy recovery:

  • Get Lots of Rest: Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. A tired body has a harder time healing.
  • Maintain a Nutritious Diet: When you start to stomach foods again, make sure to be getting plenty of leafy greens, fruits, grains, proteins, and high-fiber foods. This helps for constipation that comes with a slowed-down bowel movement, thanks to surgery.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking may slow down the hysterectomy recovery process. Plus, smoking paired with anesthesia may lead to some unnecessary lung problems.
  • Attend Follow-ups: This is crucial. Your doctor will want to schedule follow-up appointments to ensure your hysterectomy recovery is going as smoothly as possible. Don’t skip out on them, especially if you’re noticing some changes/effects you aren’t too sure about.

The Emotional Impact

Women get hysterectomies for many reasons, whether it’s precancer or relief from fibroids and heavy bleeding. However, having a hysterectomy can lead patients through a roller coaster of emotions. These reactions are perfectly fine and healthy. Be sure to rest and honor the feelings that come after a hysterectomy, as they are valid to your experience and the hysterectomy recovery process.

If you are recovering from a hysterectomy, and feel overcome with sudden emotions, reach out to someone you know who may have had this procedure. Also, don’t hesitate to contact close friends or family who will listen.

Recovering From A Hysterectomy

Hysterectomies can scare a lot of women. The procedure itself can vary, and the recovery times depend on the form of procedure carried out. However, hysterectomies are usually done in a matter of hours, and patients can go home in a day or two. It’s important to remember to rest after surgery, and not exert yourself or try to go back to your daily life too quickly. 

A hysterectomy is considered a serious surgery, and so the recovery time you take afterward shouldn’t be too short. By resting, maintaining a good diet, and following up with your doctor, you can be on the road to a long-lasting recovery that enables you to get back into whatever life throws at you in no time.

Are bladder leaks from a hysterectomy holding you back? Lily Bird‘s got you covered with pads and underwear for bladder leaks delivered directly to your door.

By Jessica Thomas, MPH