Hysterectomy FAQ

Surgeons can perform hysterectomy procedure in several ways. Many times the preferred procedure is related to the problem being treated.

What Is Abdominal Hysterectomy?

In this procedure, surgeons make a long incision between the pubic bone and bellybutton (umbilicus), which makes it easier remove the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. There are a few types of abdominal hysterectomy:

  • Partial hysterectomy: only remove the uterus.
  • Complete hysterectomy: removes the cervix and the uterus.
  • Complete hysterectomy (with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy): removes both fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus.
  • Panhysterectomy: removes the cervix, the uterus, the upper part of the vagina, both fallopian tubes and ovaries, and surrounding lymph nodes. It is often used for cervical cancer treatment.

Any type of abdominal hysterectomy is a major surgery. The surgeon needs to cut in-between the abdominal wall and major muscles to gain access to the uterus. There is a possibility of damaged tissues and nerves, and full recovery may take two months.

What Is Vaginal Hysterectomy?

It is the least invasive method for removing the uterus. The incision is made inside the vagina, however, this procedure isn’t always a good option, though. Some patients have large fibroids in their uterus, which usually can’t be removed through incisions inside the vagina. Those who undergo vaginal hysterectomy may have easier surgery, no external scar and faster recovery.

What Is LAVH (Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy)?

In LAVH (Laparoscopically Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy), the surgeon uses special lighted instruments and inserts them through small abdominal incisions to quickly remove ovaries and the fallopian tubes. It is followed up by another small incision inside the vagina to complete the procedure by removing organs that are inaccessible from incision on abdomen. It is generally less invasive than a typical abdominal hysterectomy.

How to Prepare Myself for Hysterectomy Surgery?

Because hysterectomy is rarely an emergency procedure, you will have enough time to get prepared before a surgery. It is important to eat nutritious and healthy diet to gather resources, which allow you to recover faster. It’s natural and common to feel worried, apprehensive, or even fearful about hysterectomy. You can relax and calm yourself with regular guided visualization technique. It allows you to envision your body responding well to the procedure and healing itself quickly. It’s also often useful to rethink about your definition of womanliness, as some patients think that hysterectomy could make them incomplete women. Can you emotionally fill your physical losses? You should also record your concerns and thoughts in a journal to help you identify them and find ways to resolve them efficiently. Your doctor or anesthetist may have resources in guided imagery technique to help you visualize a successful surgery and quick recovery. Many hospitals also offer detailed instruction in some proven self-healing methods.

What Happens Before Surgery?

Usually, a hysterectomy requires one to three days of hospital stay. You may go to the hospital a few hours before the surgery. Many surgeons require the pubic region to be shaved and washed. You can ask a nurse to do this or perhaps you prefer to do it yourself. You may also be asked to perform an enema before the surgery, to clear up your lower digestion system. If you’re not familiar with this procedure, you may ask the hospital staff to do it for you. If you need to take some regular medications, make sure you notify the doctor whether they are safe before and after surgery.

What Should I Expect After Surgery?

Many women can get up and walk, albeit carefully and slowly, the same evening after hysterectomy, and certainly they get slightly better by the next morning. They may feel post-operative pain and discomfort for several days, although they dramatically improve after a week. Some women have trouble urinating following a surgery, especially if a catheter is inserted during surgery. Gastrointestinal problems may also happen because bowel function may have sluggish recovery. Walking and moving around are good ways to help get our physical functions back to normal.

When Will I Be Back to Normal?

It really depends on the type of hysterectomy you have. Patients who underwent a vaginal hysterectomy or LAVH can fully recover after two weeks. With an abdominal hysterectomy, people can return to their daily activity after two months. Recovery process can be unique in each person and depends on many factors. It is important not to rush and return to your normal daily activities, if you still feel weak. Just listen to your body.

What Is Induced Menopause?

It occurs when both ovaries are damaged or removed before you have reached menopause age. Their sudden absence may be jarring to your body, some patients may experience stronger menopausal changes than natural transition. Depending on some factors, like age and overall health condition, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy or other interventions. Other than hysterectomy; radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other medical treatments that permanently damage your ovaries and cause induced menopause.

What Are Potential Complications

Whether abdominal or vaginal, a hysterectomy is a major and often life-changing surgery. Many times, it goes well and patients fully recover without any complications or problems. Occasionally, however, things won’t go so smoothly. All surgeries, no matter how trivial, carry risks of complications during and after the procedure, from hemorrhage to infection. Patients may also have unintended damages to urinary tract and bowel, as well as adverse reactions to anesthesia. It is important to understand about possible complications and report them immediately to your doctor.

Are There Alternatives to Hysterectomy?

Except with cancer, it is unlikely that doctors immediately recommend a hysterectomy to treat your condition. Health issues that necessitate a hysterectomy usually develop gradually, after a few years. The more serious your symptoms are, the more urgent the need for immediate surgical treatment. Because hysterectomy has potential complications and other risks, you should be sure that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks before you sign on the document.

Just Waiting

When you have mild symptoms and there may not be a serious health issue, like ectopic pregnancy or cancer, watchful waiting is usually the best option. A few problems, like excessive bleeding, may be temporary or self-limiting. Other health problems may persist for months or even years before they require intervention. If the doctor is watchfully looking into your condition, you will probably be asked to do regular visits for observation. If any changes happen, your doctor will discuss the best treatment possible. Waiting can be unsettling occasionally, but often it is the safest option when your overall condition could improve without any medical intervention.

Complementary and Natural Therapies

Sometimes complementary or natural therapies can help relieve any discomfort and symptom. Herbs, acupuncture, biofeedback and meditation are often the recommended option.

HRT and Medical Treatments

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other treatments can sometimes helpful in relieving cramping, heavy bleeding, and other discomfort. Often these medical methods give your body and mind the respite they need to heal themselves. Other times, they are just temporary solution.

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