Are you considering getting a hysterectomy, but aren’t sure about the aftermath? Then these post-hysterectomy truths are what you need!
by Kimberly Pangaro | Kimberly is a mom of four daughters and the owner of the lifestyle parenting media company Atomic Mommy. When she’s not running her company or momming all day, she’s writing about family life.
This post contains affiliate links. Learn more about affiliate links and how they work by reading our Affiliate Disclaimer HERE.
If you are debating on whether a laparoscopic hysterectomy is for you, then you need to know the gritty details of what comes after. Unfortunately, there are not many websites dedicated to this particular area. As a survivor of laparoscopic hysterectomy, I want to share with you the real details of what to expect in the aftermath. Here are 9 post-hysterectomy truths you need to know!
#1 Sneezing can and will hurt, even one year later.
This really depends on how your hysterectomy was handled, whether it was a partial hysterectomy or a total one. With that said, the doctor will need a way to keep your vagina and the rest of your organs, from falling out. If they opt to attach everything back in their places via ligaments, then this is where the issue comes in.
Sneezing, laughing, and even coughing can cause sharp sudden pain where they sutured (not where they went in). Yes, most doctors will advise you that full recovery can take upwards of 6 months. But what they do not mention is how this side effect can occur even if you’re one year post-op.
And while this is the best option currently available compared to previous methods, the pain and pulling on your ligaments will also be felt up to a year post-op. This feeling however, is stale and less severe. So before you choose to get a hysterectomy, be sure to ask what you can do prior to, and post-op, to limit these sensations as they are quite uncomfortable.
#2 Butt pain may still exist.
Butt pain can be due to a plethora of things, though some experts say it is because of hormone fluctuations. Now, if you have cysts or endometriosis, hormone fluctuation will be an issue for you anyway. The bad part though, is that during your recovery your hormones will be way more out of whack than usual. Therefore, the butt pain could feel more fierce, rendering you unable to sit or move the way you did before a hysterectomy.
This is why it is extremely important to have all of your hormones checked before AND after a hysterectomy. Start hormone blood work six months prior to surgery, and continue the blood work every 3 months, up to one year post-op. This will give your doctors your hormonal baseline, and will allow them to do a comparative evaluation to determine if your butt pain is due to hormones. If your hormones are within normal range, then you will need to see an internist. In the meantime, be sure to sit on soft seats, use pain reliever, and if need be, use a heating pad or ice pack to help with the pain.
#3 Some sexual positions will still feel uncomfortable.
As taboo a topic as this may be, it is still one worth taking about. Sex should feel enjoyable, right? As you recover and time goes by, things will attempt to go back to normal. Though, your insides may still feel a tad uncomfortable. Sure, you’ll get cleared to have vaginal intercourse, but that does not mean that certain positions won’t be uncomfortable. Which positions? Well that depends on your body.
Some may say that doggy style is painful, while others think missionary hurts the most. This is all based on your body’s recovery, and though a doctor will technically clear you, you should not feel rushed. Be patient with your body. Don’t forget to give your mind some self-love as well because your mindset may need some reassurance that you’re still you.
#4 The va-jay-jay sweat will be epic.
It’s shocking to hear this, but if you’ve had a hysterectomy, you are now in menopause–you will suffer the same side effects as those with menopause. This means that you will get hot flashes, cold flashes, a big appetite or loss of appetite, acne, unbalanced hormones, low libido, low energy, new bodily odors, a lot of bodily sweat, and you may experience vitamin deficiencies. But the hardest part of all of this is the groin sweat.
Your vagina, your inner thighs, your entire groin area will start to feel drenched. This is difficult to manage because it can happen unexpectedly, even in the midst of winter, and can cause you to feel self-conscious. And while this symptom used to be considered for women of a certain age, younger and younger women are experiencing it because of hormone imbalances. Therefore, you must prepare for this as it doesn’t go away.
The best thing to do is to always wear breathable underwear, and nothing scented. Do not wear thick pads or panty liners that are not 100% cotton. Do not douche. Be sure to wash the area multiple times per day with soap and water to keep any bacteria or odor away. Also, keep the area dry so yeast doesn’t grow. As an added measure, carry baby wipes, unscented and made with water, to use throughout your days.
#5 Endometriosis may not be over.
If you are getting a hysterectomy due to endometriosis, then this is for you. Endometriosis is invasive in its growth abilities and may continue growing even after a hysterectomy. During my consultation with the doctor, I was told they’d remove as much of it as possible, but was warned that it could grow back. So in case you’re wondering if the symptoms from endometriosis will be gone after your hysterectomy, the answer is maybe and maybe not. Keep that in mind when deciding to push forward with a hysterectomy. Don’t let a doctor convince you that a hysterectomy is your best option. If I could go back in time, I’d rather have kept my parts and had the doctor only remove the endometriosis tissue and cysts.
#6 Hormonal acne will attack.
Remember above, when I spoke about hormones being out of whack? Well, because your hormones are attempting to regulate, your body will experience certain ailments. Hormonal acne is one of those. You may begin to see acne on your face, neck, back, butt, and even vaginal area, while your body tries to regain control of its hormones. There may be weeks or months where you will feel and look like a teen, and sadly, this will not help your mental recovery.
There are a few steps you can take to help the hormonal part of your recovery move quicker. Double your usual water intake, so your body becomes more likely to flush toxins out. Wash your face and body with special acne washes. Ask your doctor for hormone replacement therapy options. Try to eat healthy whole foods to help the process. If you’ve already begun scarring or having hyper pigmentation from the acne, talk to a dermatologist about getting a facial to lighten the scars.
#7 Strenuous lifting or exercising will still cause pain.
The way your hysterectomy is handled could help prevent this, but if yours will be similar to mine–attached to ligaments–then you may experience pain during strenuous exercise. Again, not all bodies heal the same. There may be some who can lift 40 pounds two days after the surgery, while others simply cannot. Know your body and its limits, and be forgiving with yourself.
A good rule of thumb to follow before starting with any weights or aerobic exercise is to start with basic walking. It doesn’t have to be brisk or fast-paced, it just has to be for a good amount of time. In the beginning, post-op, you should aim to walk with a partner and for short bouts. Once your body feels comfortable with walking, you can try walking on your own. After a few months, if the ligament pain is still present, try some pain reliever and then talk to a doctor. There could be some nerve damage.
#8 Your body structure will change.
This is true–you may end up with a menopausal body shape. Ask any woman who’s in menopause, if their body shapes changed when it happened, and they will all yell, YES! That’s because of the hormonal changes that occur.
Combatting this effect is difficult, so don’t let the media or friends and family tell you otherwise. However, it is not impossible. While your body will gain more body fat, change its shape, and you’ll experience aging faster, you can still take steps to care for your new body.
Fasting has been known to be a huge helper with women in their mid-lives, especially those who are menopausal. Aim to eat during an 8 hour period, and to fast the rest of the time. Eliminate sugar from your diet. Lift weights (when your body tells you its ready) to build more muscle mass and burn more fat. Reduce your amount of alcohol and caffeine intake. Lastly, do not let stress build up. Talk with a therapist or support group about your new body and lifestyle.
#9 You may experience premature aging.
In a study that measured the changes in a group of women’s DNA, it was noted that the cells of those women who experienced menopause aged faster by about 6%. So if you get a hysterectomy, you will become menopausal and therefore, age faster.
There are really no tips and tricks to avoid this fact. It will happen, but I can impart on you some wisdom. Get comfortable with your new body. Forgive yourself for aging–I know, it’s hard to untrain the mind, but today is all about body empowerment and less about ageism. So don’t discriminate against yourself just because you are concerned with aging.
In case you really can’t deal with the aging part, you can of course opt for anti-wrinkle injections, collagen fillers, and all sorts of surgeries to stay looking young. And while there’s nothing wrong with making a few enhancements, there’s also nothing wrong with aging. So, be forgiving of yourself.
Before you have a hysterectomy, I hope you will consider the 9 post-hysterectomy truths I shared above. And if they somehow help guide you on your health journey, I will be very glad. Good luck and here’s to your health!