A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your uterus. It’s best known as a method of permanent birth control, but it has a number of other gynecologic benefits — making it one of the most common surgeries for women.
If you’re considering a hysterectomy, you might be wondering how it will change your life. Having a hysterectomy means you’ll no longer be able to get pregnant. The procedure is irreversible, so it’s very important that you weigh all of your options before making your decision.
Nevertheless, hysterectomy can be an effective treatment for severe gynecologic pain and cancer. Samuel Van Kirk, MD, and our team specialize in hysterectomy, and we’re here to help you learn what to expect after surgery.
Healing after hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is a common gynecologic surgery. Depending on the complexity of your procedure, it may take several hours to complete. You can expect to spend up to three days in the hospital, and then you’re discharged to recover at home.
Your recovery instructions may vary depending on your type of hysterectomy. Be prepared to rest for several days, perhaps a few weeks, and gradually reintroduce your usual activities under Dr. Van Kirk’s guidance.
Healing from abdominal hysterectomy may take up to eight weeks. If you had a minimally invasive procedure, like laparoscopic hysterectomy or robotic hysterectomy, your recovery time may be shorter.
Adjusting to life after hysterectomy
Having a hysterectomy means you’re no longer able to get pregnant or carry a baby, but it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from gynecologic care anymore. In fact, continuing your routine check-ups after hysterectomy is one of the best ways to adjust to life following surgery.
Dr. Van Kirk and our team match your care plan to your needs as you move through life. Depending on the type of hysterectomy you had, you’ll likely experience:
No more menstrual periods
During your reproductive years, your ovaries and uterus work together to regulate your menstrual cycle. Hysterectomy removes your uterus, and in some cases, other reproductive organs as well — so your menstrual cycle and your monthly periods stop.
No more periods also means no more period symptoms. Many women are happy to find they no longer experience the abdominal bloating, cramps, and moodiness that often accompanied their monthly periods.
Start of menopause
Women who have partial hysterectomies won’t have menstrual periods any longer, but their bodies still produce estrogen until they enter menopause in their 40s or 50s. However, total hysterectomy triggers the start of menopause, regardless of your age.
If you have your uterus, cervix, and both ovaries removed, you may begin noticing symptoms of menopause after surgery. That’s because your ovaries aren’t there to continue producing hormones, and this change sets off the menopausal process.
Reduced pelvic pain
Many women choose to get hysterectomies because they’re living with chronic pelvic pain, and conservative treatment hasn’t made a difference. If you suffered a painful gynecologic condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids before your hysterectomy, you can expect your pain to resolve.
If you had a hysterectomy to treat gynecologic cancer, your risk of complications should be lower following surgery. Depending on your condition, you may still need additional treatment to prevent cancer from spreading elsewhere.
As you adjust to life after a hysterectomy, remember to continue your annual well-woman exams. Dr. Van Kirk and our team can offer treatment for bothersome menopausal symptoms and support during each new phase of your life.
Are you considering a hysterectomy? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Van Kirk to learn more about the benefits and risks of this common procedure. Contact our office at 530-242-4129 or send us a message online.