Whilst much of the information provided in the NHS hysterectomy booklet is useful, such as the guidance around heavy lifting, it is important to remember that everyone is individual in their recovery. Some women may return to work after 8 weeks and some after 6 months. It is very important that you listen to your body and rest when you need to. Be kind to yourself.
The length of your recovery will be determined by many factors individual to you.
One major factor in your recovery will be the type of surgery you have had:
The womb is removed through a cut in the lower part of your abdomen. This usually leaves a “bikini-line” scar, although occasionally a midline (up and down) cut is necessary.
The womb is removed through the vaginal canal with no visible scars. Your Gynaecologist will discuss whether this method is suitable for your hysterectomy.
Laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy
Sometimes a hysterectomy is done using a telescope passed through the belly button and the womb is then removed through the vagina
Swelly belly is caused by trauma to the abdominal tissues, gasses used during surgery and/or fluids collecting in the tissues due to trauma during surgery.
Following an abdominal hysterectomy, women can experience swelly belly for several weeks; however, it is not uncommon for this to last for several months.
It is worsened by doing too much too soon: lifting things that are too heavy, being on your feet too long and just generally overdoing it. It also seems to be worse in the evenings, especially if you have overdone things in the day.
There are support bands available for when you are able to get out for a walk. We recommend you avoid clothes that are tight around your incision area.
Depending on your type of surgery, you may also receive information on wound care and after care appointments. We recommend buying some comfortable underwear. You will be more comfortable if the fit of your underwear to your abdominal area is not tight, especially during the initial few weeks of your recovery.
You can feel extremely sore during the first week or two of your hysterectomy recovery and you are likely to struggle to bend and move like you normally can.
It is important that you take your time when washing yourself and do not put any unnecessary strain on your body. If you have a loved one around to help you to wash, we recommend taking advantage of this.
It is important to arm yourself with as much information as possible regarding HRT, the different types and doses as well as the benefits and the possible side effects. Further information on this is available here
You will usually be advised to avoid penetrative sex until 6 weeks after surgery. Do not put pressure on yourself to resume your sex life until you are ready. Speak to your consultant about any concerns you have. Many women worry that they won’t be able to orgasm post hysterectomy. On the contrary, it can be a more pleasurable experience if long-term pain was a factor before your surgery. And remember, intimacy isn’t just about penetration, It can be exciting to explore new ways of giving and receiving pleasure. Most importantly, take your time and listen to your body.
Be kind to yourself and do not allow yourself or anyone else to put any unrealistic recovery expectations on you
Take charge of your own well-being and be your own advocate. Sadly, many GPs are not educated or trained in menopause let alone the complexities of surgical menopause
Arm yourself with as much information about surgical menopause as you can both pre and post-surgery.
Take time to research the psychological and emotional impact of surgical menopause. We recommend receiving some form of counselling as it is a major operation and navigating surgical menopause can be a lifelong commitment.
Reach out, at times surgical menopause can feel lonely but you're not alone. We're right behind you.