The procedure to surgically remove a uterus and end a woman’s ability to menstruate or become pregnant is called a hysterectomy. Sometimes this procedure can also involve the removal of other tissues or organs like the fallopian tubes or ovaries. Hysterectomies are the second-most performed surgery on American women, coming in behind Caesarian sections.
Dr. Samuel D. Van Kirk understands that recovery from a hysterectomy can be physically and emotionally taxing. With his office in Redding, California, Dr. Van Kirk helps women of all ages get through this procedure — before, during, and after the operation itself.
Recovering at home
While the surgery takes up to three hours, every patient is discharged according to their needs, sometimes staying in the hospital for several days. No matter when the discharge might be, each patient is encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible to help recovery. Patients who’ve had a hysterectomy are given medicine to prevent blood clots and to help ease the pain.
After you’re discharged from the hospital, you won’t be able to drive yourself home, so make sure you’ve lined someone up to help. Once you’ve stopped taking pain medication, which can impair judgment, you can drive yourself around — usually after about two weeks. You can slowly increase your activity every day, depending upon your pain level. Typically, you can resume normal activities in four to six weeks post-surgery. You’ll also need to avoid having intercourse for six weeks after the surgery.
You can shower or bathe as soon as you return home, making sure you carefully wash the incision with soap and water. Luckily, most of the time, you won’t need to use a bandage or dressing over the incision, and the stitches will dissolve on their own. Some women have staples instead of stitches that will need to be removed by the doctor, so be extra careful about keeping the area clean. Feel free to use lotions and creams near the incision to relieve any pesky itching as the wound heals.
If your ovaries were removed as part of your surgery, you may experience menopause-like symptoms, including mood swings and hot flashes, as your body adjusts to hormonal changes. Dr. Van Kirk prepares you for this part of your journey before you even leave the hospital.
While there are challenges ahead, there are a lot of positive benefits you’ll experience after a hysterectomy, such as relief from pelvic pain, bloating, and bleeding, leading to higher libido.
If you have any of the following symptoms after your hysterectomy, call Dr. Van Kirk right away:
- Severe pain
- Heavy bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Unusual discharge from incisions
- Problems urinating or moving your bowels
Make sure to take care of your mental and emotional state, as well, throughout the process. Many women experience mood swings. Fluctuating emotions aren’t uncommon, and you should know these feelings are normal. They’ll usually pass quickly, and most women are very happy with their results. But having a good support network in place for when you’re down — family, friends, a therapist — will definitely help.
If you’re ready to discuss scheduling a hysterectomy, or if you have any questions, call our office at 530-242-4129 or use our convenient online patient portal.