Hysterectomies are the second most common surgeries performed in the United States, with more than 500,000 performed each year. A hysterectomy is a surgery that removes the uterus, which is where babies grow. In some cases, the ovaries may also be removed at the same time.
Women have hysterectomies for a variety of reasons, such as to deal with uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic infections, and cancer. If you’re getting a hysterectomy or you’ve been told you may need one, you may be wondering what to expect after the procedure.
At his OB/GYN practice in Boise, Idaho, Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, has performed many hysterectomies. In this blog, Dr. Weyhrich explains what the recovery process is like.
Types of hysterectomies
There are basically three ways to perform a hysterectomy:
A vaginal hysterectomy is a procedure in which your provider removes your uterus through your vagina. This procedure usually involves the least amount of recovery time.
With a laparoscopic hysterectomy, your provider makes tiny incisions to perform the procedure. This requires a medium amount of recovery time.
Open or abdominal hysterectomy
With an open or abdominal hysterectomy, your provider makes 5-7 inch incisions to open up the abdomen. This requires the greatest amount of recovery time.
Recovering after a hysterectomy
The length of your recovery will depend on the type of procedure you have and on your body’s healing time. Vaginal and laparoscopic hysterectomies are often performed as outpatient procedures, meaning that you may be able to go home the same day of your surgery. Abdominal hysterectomies require longer recovery times, as they are major surgeries.
Depending on the procedure you have, you may feel pain and soreness for up to six weeks. You can generally return to your regular activities, including driving, when you no longer need to take narcotic pain medication. For most women, this is in about two weeks. However, you’ll be advised to take 3-6 weeks off from work, depending on the type of procedure you have.
Physical changes to expect after a hysterectomy
Although a hysterectomy will generally cause your periods to stop, it’s normal to experience bleeding or a brown discharge for up to four weeks afterward.
You may also experience some soreness, swelling, and bruising in the first weeks after your surgery. It’s also normal to feel some numbness in the upper portions of the legs, which should go away within two weeks.
If only your uterus and cervix are removed, you may not go into menopause right away. However, if you get a total hysterectomy, in which your ovaries and fallopian tubes are removed, you will get menopause symptoms right away.
Emotional changes you may experience after a hysterectomy
You may experience emotional changes after getting a hysterectomy. For some women, these changes are mild, but they can be quite intense for other women. Some feelings that are normal after a hysterectomy include the following:
- Relief about the end of the menstrual cycle
- Relief about freedom from pregnancy
- Mood swings
- A sense of loss
Certain emotional changes are usually temporary, especially sadness and a feeling of loss. However, if you find that they’re not going away, you should come back to see Dr. Weyhrich as soon as possible.
A hysterectomy can be a life-changing experience. It can give you relief from a number of conditions ― such as heavy bleeding and endometriosis ― and it may even be able to save your life if you have certain types of cancer, such as endometrial cancer. No matter the reason, if you need a hysterectomy, Dr. Weyhrich can help you every step of the way. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone with the office of Darin L. Weyhrich, MD, today.