Possible hysterectomy side effects are often cited as a reason why women don’t want to undergo the procedure. While all women who undergo hysterectomies will experience side effects, the severity and duration of some side effects depend greatly on what kind of hysterectomy you undergo. Some women may even appreciate some of the side effects of their hysterectomy.
Post-Surgical Side Effects
Your doctor will usually recommend that you remain in the hospital for at least one to two days after your surgery. You may be required to stay longer, depending on the underlying condition that made the procedure necessary. Immediately following your procedure, you can expect to experience pain and vaginal bleeding for several days. Your physician will supply you with something for the pain, and you will need to wear sanitary pads, not tampons, to control the bleeding. Women who undergo vaginal hysterectomies, where surgeons enter the body through the vaginal opening rather than through an incision in the abdomen, generally recover faster than women who undergo abdominal hysterectomies. Normal recovery time for vaginal hysterectomies is approximately three to four weeks, while abdominal hysterectomies require four to six weeks. Heavy lifting and intercourse are not recommended until six weeks after the surgery.
Menstruation and Pregnancy
Because the uterus is removed in all hysterectomies, after your surgery, you will no longer have periods or be able to become pregnant. If your ovaries and fallopian tubes were not removed, you will continue to produce hormones and ovulate.
If your ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed along with your uterus, and you were still having periods at the time of your surgery, you will enter menopause after surgery. Your physician may prescribe hormone therapy to treat any symptoms of menopause.
Emotional Side Effects
Because fertility is often associated with femininity, women, especially those who undergo a hysterectomy before the onset of menopause, often experience psychological side effects after hysterectomies. These emotional symptoms can be complicated by hormone shifts that take place after a hysterectomy if the ovaries are removed from a premenopausal woman. Inform your doctor of any psychological side effects you experience.
Other Side Effects
Other possible side effects of hysterectomies include damage to the surrounding abdominal and pelvic organs during surgery, cardiac or pulmonary problems associated with the anesthesia used, allergic reactions to medications, infection, heavy bleeding, and blood clots in the legs or lungs.
“Abdominal hysterectomy: What you can expect – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hysterectomy/MY00163/DSECTION=what-you-can-expect.
“Vaginal hysterectomy – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-hysterectomy/MY00099.
“Hysterectomy << Frequently Asked Questions << womenshealth.gov.” womenshealth.gov | 800-994-9662. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2010. http://womenshealth.gov/faq/hysterectomy.cfm.