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Vaginal hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus and often the cervix. It takes 4-6 weeks to recover from the procedure. Here’s what you need to know about caring for yourself during this time. Follow these and any other instructions you are given.
Vaginal hysterectomy is done through an incision inside the vagina. In some cases, 2 to 3 small incisions are also made in the skin. Instruments are then put through the small incisions to assist the procedure. This is called LAVH (laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy).
Plan to rest at home for 3-5 days after the surgery.
Take all prescribed medication exactly as directed.
Continue the coughing and deep breathing exercises you learned in the hospital.
If you had LAVH, you will have 2 to 3 skin incisions. Keep the incisions clean and dry. Change bandages as instructed.
After LAVH, you may have pain in your shoulder. This is normal and due to gas used during the surgery. The pain may last up to 7 days.
Use sanitary pads to absorb vaginal bleeding or discharge. Light bleeding is likely at first. You may have a brownish discharge for up to 6 weeks.
Do not use tampons or douches. They can cause infection.
Avoid constipation, which causes straining to pass stool. Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Drink at least 8 glasses of fluid each day. If needed, ask your healthcare provider whether you should use a stool softener.
Full recovery may take 2-4 weeks. This varies from woman to woman. Increase your activities a little bit each day. While you are recovering:
Do not drive while you are taking narcotic pain medications.
Walk as often as you feel able. Walking prevents blood clots from forming. It also helps speed healing.
Climb stairs slowly. If you get tired, pause every few steps.
Do not do sports or strenuous activity until your healthcare provider says it’s okay.
Avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4-6 weeks.
Ask others to help with chores and errands.
Bathe or shower according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
Do not have sexual intercourse until your healthcare provider says it’s okay.
Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work.
You will visit the healthcare provider again to be sure you are healing well. Keep all follow-up appointments. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have hot flashes, mood swings, or irritability. Medications may help ease these symptoms.
Because the procedure removes your uterus, you will no longer have periods. You will not be able to become pregnant. Also, you may not need Pap tests if your cervix was removed. Your healthcare provider can discuss these and other changes with you.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following after your surgery:
Fever of 100.4°F or higher
Vaginal bleeding that is bright red or soaks more than one pad in 60 minutes
Smelly or watery discharge from the vagina
Trouble urinating or burning during urination
Severe pain or bloating in your abdomen
Pain or swelling in your legs
For LAVH, redness, swelling, drainage, or increasing pain at an incision site
You feel unusually depressed or sad after the surgery