Vaginal Hysterectomy – A hysterectomy is an operation that involves the removal of the woman’s uterus and in some cases the ovaries and fallopian tubes. There are three types of hysterectomies, a total hysterectomy removes the cervix in addition to the rest of the uterus, the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. Then there is the partial hysterectomy which removes only the upper part of the uterus, and finally, the radical hysterectomy which removes the uterus, the cervix, the upper section of the vagina and all the supporting tissues (usually done for cancer sufferers).
A vaginal hysterectomy is less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy, therefore recovery times are faster. Abdominal hysterectomies can be more difficult even though the incision is small compared to what one might expect. The recovery is similar to the c-section recovery though and this is one of the reasons the vaginal hysterectomy is the preferred choice in women who have hysterectomies. Abdominal hysterectomies can be very painful to overcome in the first couple of days following the surgery.
Side Effects of a Hysterectomy
There are many reasons why women have hysterectomies. The reasons include fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, cancer, persistent vaginal bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain (however some forms of pelvic pain is not cured by a hysterectomy, so this would be a mistake you would not be able to change.)
Now that you know what a hysterectomy is and why you must have one, what will happen after the surgery. You are wondering how long it will take to get back to a normal routine. The healing process does take a while, for some women it may be a couple of weeks and for others it may take as long as six weeks or more. You should talk to your doctor before doing any physical activities. After you heal you will still experience some side effects.
One of the side effects of a hysterectomy will be a change in your hormone levels, which may cause you to experience a variety of mild to severe menopause like symptoms. These could include hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, burning of the vagina, itching in or around the vagina and extreme mood changes. To relieve these symptoms and prevent post menopausal osteoporosis, it is recommended that you seek to begin an estrogen therapy regimen.
After a hysterectomy, the vagina may be extremely dry and may cause sex to become very painful. However, this can be alleviated by using water based lubricants such as KY Jelly, Astoglide and Replens. If you experience painful sex, you should talk to your doctor to help you choose what would be best for you.
Another complaint of women who have undergone hysterectomies is weight gain, usually in the abdominal area. The weight gain is tied to the body’s skewed balance of hormones which are now changed due to the drop in estrogen. The hormone treatment should alleviate the effects of a hysterectomy that lead to weight gain. Another abdominal problem is numbness in that area as well as in the thighs. Doctors say that this numbness is due to repositioning of nerves during surgery. Just remember to take things slow as to not aggravate it by overdoing things. If you are concerned about this talk it over with your doctor.
All of these complaints are relieved by some kind of hormone therapy. Be sure if you experience any symptoms listed above after your hysterectomy to keep a record so that you can adequately explain it to your doctor. He will be able what the best next step will be to get you back to where you are supposed to be.