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What to do before and after a hysterectomy

The decision to undergo a hysterectomy is often not an easy one. It may leave you with more questions than answers. If you would like to learn more about what is a hysterectomy click here.

The reason for your hysterectomy does not matter. In any case, it is major surgery. Your surgeon’s approach as well as your general health will determine how long your recovery period will be. For some it may take several weeks for others several months. Which is why it is a good idea to know what to expect so that you can be mentally prepared through this journey.

Here are my 12 tips to consider and get on top of before undergoing a hysterectomy.

1. GET ON TOP OF YOUR PAIN RELIEF IN THE EARLY DAYS POST-OP

This will help you feel in control of the situation. If you feel that your pain is more than what you expect or are unable to wean off your pain relief, please reach out to your medical team.

2. WOUND SUPPORT

Especially for those that have an abdominal incision, use a rolled up towel to support your wound when getting out of bed, coughing, sneezing or changing position. For those who have had a procedure via the vagina, a maternity pad placed in your underwear may provide some upward support. Sometimes, I suggest making a slit in the middle of the pad and placing some crushed ice inside and placing it between 2 underwear, to aid with pain relief, inflammation and swelling.

3. SCAR MASSAGE

Sometimes scars get sticky, leaving you feeling like you are restricted in your day to day movements. Massaging the scar may be appropriate from 4-6 weeks postoperatively and must be commenced under the guidance of the medical team treating you or a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

4. PRACTICE GETTING IN AND OUT OF BED BEFORE THE OPERATION

Yes, it’s awkward. But practicing before the big day allows you to feel in control when you are less vulnerable. Trust me, I saw my mother-in-law struggle with this and she is as strong as it comes.

5. LEARN HOW TO POOP EFFECTIVELY

Straining and bearing down can impact internal and external healing and may set you back in your recovery. Also, when you need to poo, answer the call. The rectum is not designed to store poo, period. If you haven’t pooped within 3 days, ask your doctor or pharmacist for something to help you along.

6. TAKE DEEP BREATHS AND BLOW BEFORE YOU GO

It may all get a bit much at times, so it’s important to check in with yourself and establish where you are at emotionally. Breathing out as you exert yourself, say for instance when getting out of bed or a chair, will help to reduce the downward pressure on your recovering tissues and may help to take the anxiety out of the every day humanly tasks.

7. KEEP MOVING WITHIN REASON

Going for short walks, spread through the day, will aid your recovery. The aim would be to add 5 minutes per week.

8. DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES

Learn this before the big day and thank me later! When able, perform the gentle pelvic floor squeeze to help re-establish the brain-pelvic floor connection as well as to increase blood flow to assist tissue healing. We are not aiming for a personal best just yet, so please don’t squeeze as hard as you can for as long as your can. Keep track of your progress under the guidance of your Women’s Health Physiotherapist.

9. SEX MAY NOT BE THE SAME AFTERWARDS

Your arousal and desire may be significantly affected if your ovaries have been removed or if you are undergoing hormone suppression therapy for cancerous growths. You might experience vaginal dryness, reduced lubrication, discomfort such as burning/stinging/rawness during penetration, feel more capacious or the complete opposite, wherein you have scar tissue and feel like you can’t accommodate a penis or dildo. You do not have to put up with this.

10. GET YOURSELF SOME GOOD QUALITY LUBRICANT

If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, a silicon or oil-based lubricant may assist with the sliding and gliding motion. Check with the medical team treating you or your physiotherapist for the most appropriate.

11. IT TAKES TIME

Enough said.

12. CONSULT WITH A WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST PRE OR POST OPERATIVELY TO OPTIMISE YOUR RECOVERY.

This is a great idea (if I say so myself!) in order to prepare for your surgery or to help with recovery.

At Embrace Physiotherapy, we help women who are planning for a hysterectomy or other gynecological surgeries, or are recovering from one, through physiotherapy. If you have any questions about what to do before or after 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.

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