A hysterectomy is a major operation, and healing can be slow. According to Dr. Frederick R. Jelovsek, it takes most women approximately six months to get to the stage at which recovery does not impact their daily routines. You should work closely with your doctor to monitor your progress and develop a suitable post-hysterectomy recovery plan. There are a few common complications you should keep an eye out for, many of which you can avoid if you stick to the recovery plan your doctor designs for you.
Post-surgical pain is one of the most common complaints after a hysterectomy. Pain at the surgical site that radiates to the lower back and pain during sexual intercourse are both experienced by many women. In the days following the surgery, most patients are given prescription painkillers. Over time, you will move to over the counter pain medications as you recover. Keeping your physical activity to a minimum in the weeks after your surgery can also help you keep your pain in control.
Abstaining from sexual intercourse for four to six weeks after surgery may reduce the chances of painful sex after a hysterectomy. If you do find intercourse painful, consult your doctor for advice.
Nearly every patient experiences bleeding after a hysterectomy. Some women stop bleeding within a few days of surgery, but it is not uncommon to continue to experience bleeding for months after surgery. Even women whose bleeding clears up in a few days tend to see another round of bleeding about two weeks after surgery as the body expels blood clots and again at eight weeks when the sutures dissolve.
Check with your doctor if you are still experiencing heavy bleeding after four months.
The risk for developing a hernia is high for two weeks after a hysterectomy. Avoid all lifting and strenuous activity during that time. If there are no signs of hernia formation or infections at the surgical site, you can begin to phase in some physical activity, as long as it does not inflame your pain. You should avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for six weeks after the surgery.
Yeast infections, urinary tract infections and vaginal bacterial infections are all a concern post-surgery. Over the counter treatments are fine for yeast infections, but other infections will require a course of antibiotics. If you experience discharge or odor, visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Infection at the incision site is also possible. Avoid getting the surgical site wet for 48 hours after the operation to reduce the risk of infection. If your wound is itchy or weeps pus, check in with your doctor to see if you need treatment.
If your ovaries were removed during the hysterectomy, then you will experience the symptoms of menopause as well as the other post-surgical symptoms. These symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Your doctor may prescribe hormone replacement therapy to reduce the severity of these symptoms.