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Post Hysterectomy

After A Hysterectomy: What To Expect

Life doesn't simply return to normal following a hysterectomy. There will be post operative symptoms that will vary depending on the patient and the extent of the surgery performed. In a complete or total hysterectomy, where the ovaries are removed, the patient will experience surgical menopause. This will begin immediately following the surgery. Symptoms will include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and decreased libido. Surgeries which leave the ovaries in place may have less severe symptoms, but there will still be changes.

Recovery periods following a hysterectomy vary. The extent of the surgery and the patient's physical condition prior to the surgery will effect the post surgical recovery period. A patient who has had a total abdominal hysterectomy will have a longer recovery period than a patient who has had a less extensive surgery. The shortest recovery time can be expected from a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy. This leaves the patient's cervix intact providing support for other abdominal organs.

Patients who are in good physical condition with no underlying health problems will have a shorter recovery period than patients whose general physical condition is not as good, or who have other health issues. Older patients generally take longer to recover from any type of surgery than younger patients. Most patients recover from total abdominal hysterectomy with in three months. Other underlying health issues could extend this recovery period. Patients who have a laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy may recover in as little as two weeks.

If a patient exhibits fever, nausea, lightheadedness, or incision leakage, she should report these symptoms to her doctor immediately as the y may indicate a post surgical infection, or hemorrhage.

If the reason for the surgery was cancer, patients whose ovaries and/or cervix were left intact will need to follow up with regular cancer screenings. While producing fewer post operative symptoms than other procedures, women who under went a supracervical hysterectomy may experience a decrease in orgasm and some looseness in the pelvic area. Any persistent symptoms which affect the lifestyle of the patient should be discussed with her doctor. It is important for women who have undergone hysterectomies to receive support and counseling since there is often post surgical depression.

If the surgery was successful and the disease is under control or cured, a woman may return to work as soon as her recovery period is over and her doctor releases her. She may have to remain out of work for a longer period if her job involves strenuous activities like lifting and bending.

In younger patients with ovarian cancer, a surgeon may remove only one ovary if the other ovary is free of disease. There may still be symptoms of menopause and there may be diminished blood flow to the remaining ovary causing ovarian failure. This does not occur in all patients, and it is only a possible post surgical complication. With one ovary intact, surgically induced menopause may not occur. Screening for ovarian cancer of the remaining ovary should be performed regularly, since these patients are at higher risk for recurrence. In post menopausal patients, both ovaries are usually removed.

Women who suffer from surgical menopause can be treated with hormone replacement therapy in many cases. In the case of certain types of cancers, hormone replacement therapy may be contraindicated, and the woman and her doctor may turn to alternative therapy for relief of symptoms. In surgically induce menopause, the onset of symptoms is sudden and may be more severe than in patients going through natural menopause.

Women who have undergone removal of their ovaries should undergo regular check ups for osteoporosis and may need to take a supplement to prevent bone loss. It is important to continue regular checkups following surgery. Any feelings of depression should be addressed with referral to an appropriate mental health professional and support group.


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