If you’ve had general anaesthesia or an opiate pain medication, you may feel different for 2 or 3 days, with more fatigue or difficulties with your memory. You shouldn’t drive or drink alcohol if this is the case. Also, making big and important decisions should be postponed.
You may experience bloody or brownish drainage from your vagina for about 10 days. Wearing a sanitary pad can help protect your clothing.
If you’ve had a vaginal hysterectomy, your vagina will be packed with gauze to control the bleeding. Your doctor will remove the gauze the day after your surgery.
When you return home from the hospital, it’s important to continue walking to reduce your risk of blood clots. You can walk around inside your house or around your neighbourhood but you should avoid performing certain activities during recovery. These include:
- Pushing and pulling objects, such as a vacuum cleaner
- Lifting heavy items (including children)
- Sexual intercourse
Your gynaecologist may recommend a high fibre diet to reduce constipation which is common after hysterectomy.
Going back to work and normal activities
If you’ve had keyhole surgery, recovery time can be as short as 2 weeks. For open surgery, your recovery time can be between 6 and 8 weeks. Increase your activity gradually. Try to get up and walk every hour during the day. Don’t lift items heavier than 5 kilos or take part in strenuous activity for at least 4 to 6 weeks.
Always wash your hands before and after touching the area near your incision site. You can shower after the second day unless your gynaecologist tells you not to. Don’t soak in a bathtub until your stitches, closure strips, or staples are removed.
If you’ve been told by your gynaecologist to change your wound dressing at home, follow their instructions. If you’ve had open surgery, a small amount of drainage from your incision is normal. Your discharge letter, as well as a conversation with your gynaecologist should clearly note when and where your stitches or staples should be removed.
Your scars will heal in about 4 to 6 weeks and will become softer and continue to fade over your next year.
Women have a range of emotional reactions to a hysterectomy. You may be relieved that your symptoms are gone or sad that you can no longer have children. Talk to your doctor if you feel distressed, as support is available.
If you’ve kept your cervix, you’ll need to keep having regular pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.
Hormone replacement therapy
If your ovaries have been removed you will most likely have menopausal symptoms. You may want to consider having hormone replacement therapy to reduce the symptoms.
Your GP can remove the stitches or staples for you. Your gynaecologist will tell you how soon to have them removed. You’ll need to make a follow-up appointment with your gynaecologist, probably after 6 weeks, to check on your results.
Watching out for problems
Call your gynaecologist immediately if you have:
- Fever or chills
- Heavy bleeding or unusual vaginal discharge
- Severe pain
- Redness or discharge from your incisions
- Problems urinating or having a bowel movement
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
Pros and cons of public hospitals
Understanding your hospital choices will help you decide what's right for you.