ARE YOU OVERDOING IT AFTER HYSTERECTOMY?
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For most women, hysterectomy is a significant point in their lives. Whether the surgical removal of the uterus is done for endometriosis, fibroids, or gynecological cancer, life after hysterectomy permanently changes a few aspects of your life. For most, it means relief from symptoms that made the surgery necessary. For others, it could mean that they can no longer get pregnant or have a menstrual cycle.
Hysterectomy is a major surgery, and it is important to get plenty of rest afterward. You have been told to “take it easy” by your doctors. And it’s very easy to overdo activities when medications are masking your symptoms.
So how exactly is your body going to tell you the signs of overdoing it after a hysterectomy? And what is the hysterectomy aftercare that you need to follow for a speedy recovery?
We will explain all that and answer other most commonly asked questions about hysterectomy recovery right here.
Recovery from hysterectomy depends upon the type of procedure you have had.
If you underwent an abdominal hysterectomy, which means your uterus was removed from an incision made in your abdomen, complete recovery typically takes 6-8 weeks.
If you had your uterus removed through your vagina, recovery after vaginal hysterectomy takes around 2 weeks.
These are a few things to do following a hysterectomy:
1. Rest as much as possible. Avoid standing for prolonged periods.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
3. Stay hydrated.
4. Few days after the operation, start walking slowly. You can even do light stretches.
5. Balance exercises with adequate rest
6. Climb the stairs slowly in the beginning with one leg at a time.
7. Two weeks after the surgery, you can resume driving
8. Sexual intercourse and insertion of tampons and douche products should be avoided for 8 weeks
9. You can return to a physically non-taxing job in 4 to 8 weeks
10. You can swim after your wounds have healed completely
Here are some ways your body is going to tell you that you are overdoing after a hysterectomy:
- You experience shooting pain in your stomach, pelvic regions, and back
- You have foul-smelling vaginal discharge, bleeding, or spotting. Heavy vaginal bleeding soaks up one sanitary napkin in an hour.
- Your incisions start to weep or open up
- You need to start pain medications again
- Your belly becomes bloated
- You feel more tired than usual or worse than you normally do
- You have a burning sensation while urinating
- You experience constipation or diarrhea
Do not lift anything heavy for a complete six weeks after the procedure. Do not vacuum or perform other strenuous household chores.
If you have to lift lighter objects (less than 20 pounds), bend your knees and keep your back straight while lifting. A bag of groceries is around 20 pounds.
You can get back to normal exercises 8 weeks after surgery. Always consult with your physician for resuming activities after a hysterectomy.
Any activity that makes you uncomfortable, causes increased pain, vaginal bleeding or discharge, and drainage from the incision site is considered to be too much for you.
If you become sore in places other than your incision site and if you feel an increased pressure in your pelvic region, it may also indicate that you are overdoing it.
If you experience these symptoms, stop doing the activity, and resume after several days.
Some activities to avoid after a hysterectomy are:
- High impact exercises like running, burpees, and jumping.
- Heavy resistance exercise that makes you grunt to lift or hold your breath.
- Abdominal and core exercises like planks, crunches, and sit-ups.
Start slow, gradually building up the intensity of your physical activity. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
Many women require a some bed rest after a hysterectomy. The duration of the recovery period depends upon the type of surgery you have had and your age. Recovery also depends upon your general health before surgery.
Abdominal hysterectomy requires more recovery time than vaginal or laparoscopically performed hysterectomies.
You may be advised to rest for anywhere between 2-6 weeks, with the first two weeks consisting of bed rest.
Although it is essential to get plenty of bed rest, it is also important to get up and move around as soon as you can. Surgery and bed rest put you at an increased risk for a blood clot.
The best exercise to start after a hysterectomy is walking. It is one of the best functional exercises to perform after a major surgery like a hysterectomy without risking injury to your pelvic floor.
Start walking in the hospital 24 hours after the surgery. You can continue the in-hospital walking routine in the first 1 to 2 weeks at home. If comfortable, you can walk 10 minutes continuously at the end of the second week. This can be increased by five minutes per week. By the end of 6 weeks, you should be able to walk continuously for 30 minutes. While walking minimizes the risk of injury, it is still vital to listen to your body and pace yourself. It is important not to try to do too much too soon, which could affect the healing process.
Call your doctor immediately in case you experience any of the following:
- Heavy bleeding or vaginal discharge
- Fever and chills
- Discharge and redness at the site of incision
- Chest pain, difficulty in breathing, or feeling out of breath
- Severe pain
- Difficulty in bowel movements or passing urine
Recovery following hysterectomy is different for each woman. It takes a long time and plenty of patience to recover from the surgery. Before starting any physical activity, remember that your pelvic tissues need to heal completely after a major traumatic event. They are sensitive to anything that stretches or strains them.
Avoid trying to do too much activity at once. If you experience pain, bleeding, discharge from your vagina and incision site, and opening up of your sutures, it means you need to take it slow. Understand these signs from your body that tell you are overdoing it so that you can rest, recover and start fresh again.
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