Post-hysterectomy problems range from the physical to the emotional. There is no standard road map to recovery. The problem one woman experiences after surgery may not necessarily be experienced by another. You doctor should work with you closely after your surgery to monitor you for any complications and to treat any post-hysterectomy problems that may arise.
Pain is one of the most frequent complaints after a hysterectomy. This includes both pelvic pain at the surgical site and pain during sexual intercourse. Most women receive prescription-strength painkillers right after the surgery to help ease the discomfort and then move to over-the-counter painkillers, if needed, as they heal. Reducing physical activity in the weeks after surgery can also help lessen the pain you feel.
Doctors usually recommend that women abstain from sexual intercourse for between four and six weeks after surgery. Waiting this long allows some healing to take place so intercourse is not painful. Some women do still experience some initial pain during sex, but this should lessen over time as you heal.
Bleeding post-hysterectomy is another frequent issue. Light bleeding is common in the days after surgery, and for some women, it ends there. Other women experience heavier bleeding for several weeks after surgery. It also is not uncommon for a woman who has stopped bleeding to experience another flow about two weeks after the surgery; this is believed to be blood clots from surgery. Another round of bleeding may occur around the eight-week mark when the sutures dissolve.
Note that some women bleed for many weeks after their surgery. If you are still bleeding around the four-month mark, get your doctor involved.
Gas and nausea are reported by many women after surgery, as is constipation. Over-the-counter remedies are usually sufficient treatments. These symptoms usually clear up within a few weeks of surgery and are most dramatic immediately after the operation.
Yeast infections, vaginal bacterial infections and urinary tract infections are a risk post-surgery. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but bacterial infections and urinary tract infections will require an antibiotic. If you experience an odor, discharge or pain during urination, visit your doctor for testing.
Coming to terms with having a hysterectomy is not easy for many women. These feelings are increased when the hysterectomy is done during childbearing years, and they are exacerbated even more when the ovaries are removed during the hysterectomy. The removal of the ovaries means that menopause begins, and the hormone changes can lead to mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats.
Talking to other women who have been through the surgery can help. Your doctor can recommend groups in your area, or check the resources section for online hysterectomy support.