18 Jul Everything You Need to Know About Life After a Hysterectomy
The choice to have a hysterectomy—surgery to remove your uterus—is a major one for women of any age. The procedure is very common: 1 in 3 American women has had a hysterectomy by the age of 60. It can be an important and necessary procedure for providing relief from certain conditions, improving your quality of life, or even saving your life. But, like any surgical procedure, it can have short- and long-term side effects that are important to consider.
A hysterectomy is never a recommendation that your OB-GYN will make lightly. Usually, it comes after we’ve exhausted other treatment or management options. If you find yourself facing this decision, it’s important to get answers to your questions. So let’s talk a little about what you can expect from life after a hysterectomy.
What is a Hysterectomy?
This surgical procedure is done to remove the uterus, and sometimes other reproductive organs. It can be performed using several different methods, which your doctor will recommend based on your overall health and reason for surgery.
You may receive an abdominal hysterectomy, a vaginal hysterectomy (removal through the vaginal opening), or a laparoscopic hysterectomy (removal using specialized surgical tools through very small cuts around your belly button).
There are also different types of hysterectomy:
- Partial hysterectomy: Removing only the upper part of the uterus but leaving the cervix
- Total hysterectomy: Removing both the uterus and the cervix (most common). Sometimes, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed.
- Radical hysterectomy: Removing the uterus, cervix, tissue around the cervix, and the upper part of the vagina (typically performed to remove cancer)
- Hysterectomy with oophorectomy: Removing both the uterus and ovaries
Most Common Reasons a Hysterectomy is Performed
Hysterectomies may be performed for various reasons, all of which relate to improving your quality of life or removing dangerous growths that could pose a risk to your health.
- Presence of uterine fibroids
- Uterine prolapse (a weakening of the muscles and tissues that causes your uterus to drop into your vagina)
- Chronic pelvic pain, often caused by endometriosis or adenomyosis
- Uterine, ovarian, or cervical cancer
- Heavy periods and abnormal bleeding
Recovering from a Hysterectomy: What to Expect
Recovery time can vary, but generally, you can expect a one or two night stay in the hospital and about 3-6 weeks of reduced activity at home (no heavy lifting). Abdominal surgeries may require a lengthier recovery time.
While light exercises are important, we recommend not lifting heavy objects that weigh any more than a bag of groceries for about 6 weeks. Plan to have someone help you out around the house during this time.
What Are the Side Effects of Hysterectomy?
It’s natural to be concerned about the long-term effects of having your uterus removed. However, each can be managed with the right healthcare partner and support systems on your side. Don’t be afraid to ask for help navigating any of these symptoms if they feel challenging or overwhelming.
For many women, the relief of painful symptoms related to endometriosis or fibroids is the biggest physical change they feel.
In the early stages of recovery, you may experience some light symptoms such as bleeding, urinary incontinence, or irregular bowel movements.Your doctor can provide tips and treatments for managing these symptoms.
Partial hysterectomies tend to have the least effect on hormone levels, while surgeries that involve ovary removal have the most. If your ovaries remain, they will continue to produce hormones, though production may slow. If your ovaries are removed, you will enter surgical menopause.
If you experience symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, trouble concentrating, or sleep problems, you may be a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy. Talk to your OB-GYN about any uncomfortable changes you experience so we can work on a plan together.
Sexual Health & Intimacy
Following a hysterectomy, some women report a lack of sexual desire and an interruption to their sex life. Whether due to hormonal changes, vaginal dryness, or pain related to intercourse, women may find sex less pleasurable.
Maintaining a healthy sex life is an important aspect of your overall well-being, so don’t feel shy when discussing these things with your doctor. Together, we can explore solutions for enhancing intimacy after a hysterectomy.
Can I Get Pregnant After a Hysterectomy?
No, once your uterus is removed, you can no longer get pregnant. For some women, this comes as a relief. For others, it triggers a profound sense of loss. This brings us to our next subject: emotional well-being.
Every woman’s experience with a hysterectomy is different, but it can be a powerfully emotional experience. For some, there is a sense of being freed from the painful, life-altering symptoms of conditions like endometriosis. For others, there is grief, especially if they had hopes of starting a family.
Having a post-op support system is important not only for your physical health, but your mental health as well. At Sylacauga OB-GYN, we’re here to listen, to understand any challenges you face, and help connect you with resources for all aspects of your recovery.
Can I Live a Normal Life After a Hysterectomy?
Yes, absolutely. While there will be adjustments and challenges, they can all be managed and overcome. At Sylacauga OB-GYN, we strive to be a positive force in your recovery, offering recommendations for living your best life.
Find a Partner in Health
A hysterectomy is a major decision, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Sylacauga OB-GYN, we’ll explore all of your options with you and spend the time it takes to answer all of your questions. Whether a hysterectomy is necessary to save your life or is your best option for leading a normal, healthy life, we’ll be by your side every step of the way.
If you’re seeking a second opinion about a hysterectomy or need help dealing with a chronic gynecological condition, contact our compassionate team today.
Sylacauga OB-GYN: Leading Provider of Hysterectomies & Other Women’s Health Services in the Coosa Valley Area
At Sylacauga OB-GYN, we’re proud of our small town doctors and big city care. Serving women in Sylacauga, Alexander City, Talladega, Childersburg, and beyond, our OB-GYN team is on the forefront of women’s health. To make your appointment, call us at (256) 510-7495 or contact us online.