What to expect after your hysterectomyMonday, August 02, 2021
WITH the ongoing advancements in the medical field, surgeries such as hysterectomies are becoming more popular to treat conditions such as cancer, fibroids and endometriosis.
With a hysterectomy, a woman's uterus and sometimes cervix, ovaries and Fallopian tubes are removed, and according to gynaecologist Dr Jordan Hardie, there are certain things women need to expect after getting this procedure.
Expectations after a hysterectomy are dependent on the indication for the surgery — benign or malignant (cancer); route of the surgery — abdominal, vaginal or laparoscopic; and the complexity of the procedure.
“Patients with previous surgery or large pelvic masses are likely to have a more complex procedure,” Dr Hardie told All Woman, as he noted that the majority of patients usually respond well and are able to return to their usual state of wellness shortly after the procedure.
He said care following a hysterectomy will involve follow-up with your gynaecologist who will inform you of anything that may have been unique to your case.
Adding that adverse reactions during or after a hysterectomy are extremely uncommon, Dr Hardie said, “There is no national database with an exact figure; however, hysterectomy is noted to be the most common gynaecological surgery for a benign condition globally.”
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it takes about six to eight weeks to fully recover after having an abdominal hysterectomy, and while recovery time is often shorter after a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy, during this time the patient should rest as much as possible and resist lifting heavy loads.
The CDC listed possible side effects after the procedure, and they include:
1. Bowel and bladder disturbances. After your operation there may be some changes in your bowel and bladder functions when going to the toilet. In addition, some women develop urinary tract infections or constipation.
2. Vaginal discharge. After a hysterectomy you'll experience some vaginal bleeding and discharge. You should visit your doctor if you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, start passing blood clots or have a strong-smelling discharge.
3. Menopausal symptoms. If your ovaries are removed you'll usually experience severe menopausal symptoms after your operation. These may include hot flushes, anxiety, weepiness and sweating.
The UK National Health Service says a woman may need to have hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after the operation. HRT is essentially medication given to women who are going through or have gone through menopause, to relieve the symptoms associated with the transition. These medications contain oestrogen alone or both oestrogen and progestin supplements.
Note that for younger women who may need to have a hysterectomy, they may feel a sense of loss and sadness afterwards. Some women who have not yet experienced menopause may feel a sense of loss because they're no longer able to have children. Others may feel less womanly than before. In some cases, having a hysterectomy can be a trigger for depression.
You may experience some vaginal dryness, particularly if you have had your ovaries removed and you're not on HRT.
Many women also experience an initial loss of sexual desire (libido) after the operation, but this usually returns once they have fully recovered.
Note that you no longer need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy after having a hysterectomy; however, you'll still need to use condoms to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections.
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