A vaginal hysterectomy is a surgery to remove the uterus through the vagina. One or both ovaries and fallopian tubes may be removed during the procedure. A vaginal hysterectomy is performed if the uterus is not greatly enlarged.
The surgery may be performed under either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. The latest anesthesia is short lasting. After the surgery, your hospital stay may not be more than 24 hours. There is a catheter in the bladder for urine drainage. This is usually for up to a few hours after the surgery until you are able to walk and empty your bladder.
Every women’s recovery after hysterectomy is different. There are phases as to what a woman must expect after hysterectomy.
Immediately after the vaginal hysterectomy
It is normal to feel sleepy a few hours after the surgery while the effect of anesthesia goes off. Some women will be discharged the same day after a few hours of the surgery. While others need to stay for a day longer. This depends on the recovery and complications after the surgery.
After the surgery, a woman may experience:
- Stitches inside the vagina that dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed.
- Gauze, similar to a tampon, is placed inside the vagina to help reduce bleeding from the surgery and is removed before you go home.
- A urinary catheter inserted until she can walk around and the doctors remove them after making sure that she is able to walk and empty her stomach.
First few weeks after hysterectomy
In the first few weeks after having a vaginal hysterectomy, it is normal to have:
- Bleeding similar to the light period that comes and goes, also reduces with time.
- Mild pain and discomfort in the lower belly.
- Bloating or constipation because the bowel may temporarily slow down.
Although vaginal hysterectomy is less invasive in comparison to abdominal hysterectomy, it still needs some time for recovery and to get back to normal activities. After leaving the hospital, there are some restrictions for which you must talk to the doctor about it. Some women can go back to work after a week, depending on how quickly they are recovering.
A woman may be able to drive after a week once they have stopped taking painkillers or medicines that may cause sleepiness. They must be able to use seat belts, sit in the car without pain and use controls without any discomfort. Also, they should be comfortable enough to move their body to see in all the directions. If you exercise each day, then you are more likely to get back to your workout routine after a few weeks. Walking regularly will help in bowel movement and may help reduce the risk of blood clots. Increase the timing gradually for walking, it will help you increase the energy levels.
Things you need to avoid after vaginal hysterectomy
There are certain restrictions after vaginal hysterectomy for speedy and smooth recovery:
- Avoid inserting anything into the vagina for atleast 3-4 weeks that includes no tampons, douching or sexual intercourse during this time.
- No strenuous activities during the first 4 weeks which includes lifting heavy weight, moving furniture and so on.
- Swimming must be avoided until the doctor says that the stitches are healed completely.
If a woman follows all the post-surgery instructions mentioned below, she may heal quickly and successfully after the vaginal hysterectomy. The instructions may include:
- Take proper rest: Take proper sleep, atleast 8 hours or more, if fatigue is the issue.
- Follow a healthy diet chart: Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Healthy and nutritious food will help in speedy recovery and increase energy levels.
- Eat high fiber foods: Constipation is a common problem after vaginal hysterectomy and may become worse by certain painkillers. Eat food rich in fiber. Still, if the bowel movements are painful, consider stool softener and drink a lot of water.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking is injurious and stops the body’s healing process. Doctors usually ask you to stop smoking before the surgery as the consequences may be severe.
- Get regular check-ups: Regular follow-ups and check-ups are recommended which will also help you know your recovery status, For any further queries related to after effects of the surgery, you may ask the doctor during regular check-ups.
Complications after vaginal hysterectomy
Vaginal hysterectomy is a safe and minimally invasive procedure. There are rare complications which may include infection, blood clots in the legs and anesthesia problems. You must consult your surgeon if you notice any of them.
- No more menstrual periods after vaginal hysterectomy. It may be beneficial for a woman with abnormal bleeding, endometriosis or any other period-related problems.
- A woman will no longer be able to get pregnant but it is important to take precautions for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You will no longer need birth control pills.
- If the ovaries are removed, you may experience hormonal changes. You may start going through menopause soon after the surgery.
- The symptoms of menopause may include vaginal dryness, decreased libido, mood changes and discomfort during intercourse.
- Some women may experience heightened sexual satisfaction after hysterectomy as recovery and after effects are different for different women.
- Sometimes there may be a sense of sadness due to loss of fertility, especially if you are young. You must consult a doctor if this hinders your everyday life.
Your doctor can recommend medicines for these symptoms if you are struggling with any of these issues.
Also Read: Tips for Quick Hysterectomy Recovery