What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. The uterus is, in fact, one of the major organs of the body, unique to the female species. Therefore, it is not surprising that when a woman makes the tough decision to have it removed, it may result in feeling emasculated (why isn’t there a female version of this word?) and being robbed of her female sexual identity.

The indication to undergo one may vary. Not all hysterectomies are the same, and the procedure may or may not involve the removal of one or both ovaries and the fallopian tubes. In any case, understanding the potential side effects and what you can do preoperatively may help to enhance your recovery and embrace life.

WHY IS HYSTERECTOMY RECOMMENDED?

A hysterectomy is usually recommended when other surgical or pharmacological options may not be possible or have not helped your symptoms.

There are several uterine conditions that may call for a hysterectomy. Some are benign, whilst others are malignant or cancerous.

Benign, or non-cancerous conditions, include:

THERE ARE 3 MAIN TYPES OF HYSTERECTOMIES

1. Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH)

A laparoscope is inserted through multiple small cuts in the abdominal wall to allow the surgeon to see into your abdomen. Since this approach is less invasive, recovery is generally faster.

2. Abdominal Hysterectomy

You will experience a lower abdominal incision which may be horizontal or vertical.

  • A sub-total or partial hysterectomy will remove only the upper two-thirds of the uterus. The woman keeps her fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix.
  • A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the whole uterus and the cervix. The female keeps her fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • A hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy involves the removal of the fallopian tubes, the whole uterus and cervix, together with one or both ovaries. This kind of procedure, where one or both the ovaries are removed results in more sexual dysfunction compared to a hysterectomy alone.

3. Vaginal Hysterectomy

As the name suggests, it is a hysterectomy performed via the vagina. There are no abdominal incisions.

WHAT ARE SOME SIDE EFFECTS OF A HYSTERECTOMY?

Depending on the surgeon’s approach, the side effects will differ. There are general complications such as problems with the anaesthetic, wound infections, blood clots in the legs or lungs and respiratory tract infections which the medical team treating you would have discussed with you prior to your operation.

However, in my view as a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, the biggest side-effects involve changes to your pelvic floor muscles and the vulvovaginal tissues. These structures are rich in estrogen receptors and love estrogen. The ovaries are responsible for the production of estrogen. If the ovaries are removed either surgically or suppressed pharmacologically, the impact can be quite distressing. The other consequence to consider with the removal of the uterus, and/or other pelvic floor structures, is a loss in the structural integrity of the pelvic floor. These changes can give rise to:

  • Pelvic floor weakness
  • Stress or urge urinary incontinence
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Changes in sexual desire, arousal and orgasm
  • Painful intercourse or dyspareunia
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Reduced lubrication
  • Discomfort such as burning/stinging/rawness with penetration
  • Capacious feeling or the complete opposite – like the vagina cannot accommodate the penis or dildo or having difficulty with inserting a tampon or undergoing a PAP smear

The good news is, evidence suggests that in conjunction with your Women’s Health Physiotherapist, a program to address your pelvic health concerns can often improve, if not eliminate symptoms of the pelvic floor.

Also, find out what to do before and after a hysterectomy, from a Women’s Health Physio’s point of view.

HOW CAN PHYSIOTHERAPY HELP ME RECOVER FROM A HYSTERECTOMY?

  • Working alongside your doctor to help identify the best course of treatment
  • Making recommendations for appropriate vaginal moisturisers and lubrication
  • Designing a personalised pelvic floor muscle program with appropriate stretches
  • Introducing graded touch and tissue desensitisation techniques
  • Recommending a dilator program using vaginal trainers
  • Discussing approaches to a fulfilling intimate relationship
  • Referring you to a sex counsellor or psychologist to address changes in body image, sexuality, fear, anxiety, and coping
  • Supporting your emotional and physical health
  • Helping you embrace life

We help women recover from hysterectomy and other gynaecological surgeries through physiotherapy. If you have any questions about a hysterectomy, do email us or call us at 9780 7274.

You can also visit our website to learn about other women’s conditions we treat through physiotherapy and how we can help you.

 

5 Star Google Reviews
Embrace Physiotherapy is committed to 5 star client satisfaction.

    5 star review  I had excellent experience at Embrace Physiotherapy with Brenda. She was so much helpful on my conditions with patience and caring. I can strongly see significant improvement on my body pains. If you want to know how amazing it is if you have physiotherapy demands, definitely go and meet Brenda there! Highly recommend her and of course Embrace’s friendly service.

    thumb Katrina Lu
    November 14, 2021

    5 star review  Great service and superior expertise at Embrace Physio! From the moment that you walk in you're greeted with top notch service. Preet and her team of physiotherapists are warm and welcoming, and their knowledge has undoubtedly helped me to treat my post-natal symptoms. My only regret is not knowing about Embrace earlier!

    thumb Dione Mayuko Harrison
    September 28, 2021

    5 star review  I started seeing Preet about 6 weeks ago to try and resolve a niggling back pain. Preet was patient and thorough in her review of what was causing the problem. I found Preet approachable, trustworthy and professional in her approach. She showed me a handful of exercises to do which reduced the pain and made me feel so much better. Her genuine passion for what she does alongside her practical approach makes the service at Embrace unbeatable. Thank you!

    thumb Elizabeth Taylor
    April 1, 2020

Embrace life. Embrace Physiotherapy.

Looking to make an appointment? We are here to help! Booking an appointment online with Embrace Physiotherapy is the most confidential, convenient way to lock in the practitioner & time you want.

Menu