During a hysterectomy, a woman's uterus is taken out through an abdominal incision or through the vagina during surgery. Women with certain gynecologic problems may seek a vaginal hysterectomy, which offers a quicker recovery than an abdominal hysterectomy. This procedure can benefit a woman's health if she has certain health conditions like fibroids, cancer or endometriosis, among others. After a woman has a hysterectomy, she will not be able to become pregnant or bear children.
Vaginal hysterectomy recovery requires a hospital stay for several days. Women are usually advised to move slowly and walk around a bit after the surgery, to aid recovery and avoid blood clots in the legs. Once they leave the hospital, women should avoid overextending themselves or having sex for at least a week after the surgery. The Mayo Clinic recommends women have a caregiver in the home to help with daily tasks for a short time after the surgery. Recovery from a vaginal hysterectomy is usually trouble-free, but can take several weeks to several months. The average recovery time for a vaginal hysterectomy is one month.
After a vaginal hysterectomy, vaginal bleeding can occur for several days or several weeks. Sanitary napkins should be worn during this time. Women that have had their ovaries or fallopian tubes removed during the surgery will immediately go into a menopausal state. This can cause uncomfortable side effects to occur, like hot flashes or minimal vaginal lubrication. Symptoms to watch for after a vaginal hysterectomy include nausea, vomiting, fever, dizziness or extremely heavy bleeding. These are warning signs of a problem and should be reported to a physician immediately.
In the hospital, women will receive intravenous (IV) fluids after a vaginal hysterectomy. The IV may contain pain medications, although pain pills can also be given. For women that experience early menopause after hysterectomy, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) may be prescribed.
Risks and Complications
Some women experience complications from a vaginal hysterectomy. Examples of complications that can occur include medication reactions, trouble breathing, blood clots, excessive bleeding and infection from the surgery. Some women may also experience pain during intercourse after a hysterectomy or premature menopause. Women that have previous health conditions, like obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure, may face a higher risk of complications from vaginal hysterectomy.
Emotions After Hysterectomy
Some women feel very positively about their hysterectomies. They may find relief from pain, illness or discomfort if their vaginal hysterectomy was performed to fix a medical condition. Other women may enjoy not worrying about pregnancy or birth control anymore. Conversely, some women may find themselves grieving after a hysterectomy, especially if they were hoping to one day have more children. They may also feel a part of their womanhood is gone. These emotions are normal after a hysterectomy, but if difficult feelings persist, it may be helpful to contact a mental health professional.