I’m writing this blog as I have been through a hysterectomy and know how little we are told about what happens. I am also getting more and more women come to me post hysterectomy or abdominal surgery and not really getting any support. I am not a medic, absolutely not, BUT I am passionate about information and advice.
Have you had or about to have a hysterectomy?
If so, I would love to hear from you and hear what was explained to you about the operation. Were you offered any advice about how you may feel afterwards or for the months following the operation? Did you have any after care? Or did you just Google and find hystersisters and that is about it??
I don’t mean to be cynical at all. I just feel for women who leave hospital in a lot of pain and don’t know that they will be bloated or find they have constipation for a while. Also a big thing is how emotional you may feel in the months after – that can happen and can spring up on you!
What happens with a hysterectomy
Obviously you will have had the options explained – you can have a total hysterectomy where they remove your cervix and uterus. You can have a sub-total / partial hysterectomy which leaves your cervix. If you need to have a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy they remove your uterus, cervix, ovaries and tubes – the whole lot. If this happens you should also be told that you will wake up in post menopause and can experience symptoms.
You can have keyhole surgery or abdominal surgery and there is also vaginal surgery but this is less common. Even if you have a keyhole surgery – where they send you home sooner, always remember that it is still surgery and they have still cut into your tummy.
You will be bloated for quite a while after – due to them filling you up with air! Also you are slightly at an angle in the operation, head downwards, so everything feels bloated and out of place – that is normal.
You will feel very tired post op – that is due to the anaesthetic.
You will be quite windy!! Again normal.
It will be painful doing a poo or you may find you have constipation for quite a while after the op.
You will be uncomfortable and very sore post op, especially if you have an abdominal surgery – it will be hard to stand upright.
Things to start doing post op
Do take it easy for the first few weeks and slowly increase your walking, by small amounts each day. Do try and move though. Don’t lie down or sit all of the time. Bodies are designed to move – though gently post op, but do move more bit by bit.
Gently start to massage your tummy – after a few weeks gently massage along, above & below your scar – use a good quality Vit E or scar oil – avoid anything like Bio-oil and get one as natural as possible. Don’t do this if the scar looks infected – get it checked out if it is.
Really try and start eating well. Your body will be working harder to mend the internal tissue so the more help it can get from protein – amino acids, antioxidants and Vitamins, the better. Increase the amount of cruciferous veggies. Your body needs the Vitamin C & E to help mend and bind the tissue. Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water. Don’t forget the healthy fats – plenty of good olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, quinoa. If you haven’t had the hysterectomy yet – prepare foods like this beforehand and put them in the freezer so you don’t need to do much after your op.
Exercise after hysterectomy
Start focusing on your pelvic health. My advice is to think about your breathing and focus on building up your pelvic floor endurance as well as the quick ‘fast twitch’ muscles. They are all important as you could be more prone to pelvic floor dysfunction post a hysterectomy. See a women’s health physio (I have contacts, just ask) and get checked if you are worried.
Finally, never be afraid to ask. Speak and check with your GP what you are experiencing is normal. Get your FSH levels checked if you still have your ovaries but begin to get a few ‘odd’ symptoms earlier than you thought.
Will I go through the menopause sooner?
If you have had your ovaries removed, you will go through what is called surgical menopause – so yes you will almost be waking up in the menopause. You may or may not experience symptoms – everyone is different, though you probably will start to get some hot flushes.
If you still have your ovaries – then you will not be in the menopause – however, you are more likely get more of a decline in your oestrogen and progesterone levels sooner. So be aware of this and potential symptoms.
Also, please seek help or just be kind to yourself. Some people can find it very traumatic. You have had an essential female part of the body removed. You can no longer have children. You could experience a sudden loss – not straight away, but you could. I thought I was fine and didn’t think about it. However a few months post my operation I was suddenly very teary and emotional all the time. I never expected that. It was probably to do with my hormones, but also it was a loss, an important part of my female reproductive system had been taken from me.
Most importantly – Look after yourself. Don’t go back to work or doing too much too soon. Don’t underestimate the need for the body to mend. Remember, you will be very tired and get fatigued quickly. Eat well and drink plenty of water. BE NICE TO YOURSELF!