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After countless tests and scans and unsuccessfully trying all sorts of treatments, doctors might conclude that you require a hysterectomy. Once the date of surgery is set up, all you can do is wait and prepare for a hysterectomy.
You are most likely to feel jittery in the days leading up to the hysterectomy, doubting whether you made the right decision or nervous about the procedure itself.
As you wonder what happens during a hysterectomy, talking to your physician and different women who underwent this procedure may cause these feelings to subside.
This blog explores hysterectomy, its types, and tips to have a stress-free hysterectomy experience.
What is Hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus (subtotal hysterectomy) or the removal of the uterus along with the cervix (total hysterectomy).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.2% of women between the ages of 15-44 had hysterectomies in 2011-2015.
A hysterectomy is performed to treat a number of different conditions, including:
- Heavy periods
- Uterine prolapse
- Gynaecologic cancer such as cervical cancer or ovarian cancer
- Chronic pelvic inflammation
After a hysterectomy, you enter the menopause stage and no longer be able to get pregnant.
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What are the Different Types of a Hysterectomy?
The type of hysterectomy recommended for you depends on your medical condition, past medical records, and comorbidities. Your doctor might work with you to determine which type fits your situation better and how you can prepare for a hysterectomy.
There are three primary categories of hysterectomy:
- Total Hysterectomy
In a total hysterectomy, the complete body of the uterus, along with the neck of the cervix, is surgically removed.
- Subtotal Hysterectomy
It is also referred to as a supracervical hysterectomy. In this procedure, only the uterus is removed, leaving the cervix undisturbed.
- Radical Hysterectomy
In a radical hysterectomy, the uterus, cervix, the upper part of the vagina, and the tissues surrounding the uterus and cervix are surgically removed.
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How to Prepare for Hysterectomy?
As you prepare for a hysterectomy, plan your stay at the hospital ahead of time to maximize your comfort after the surgery. Based on your past medical records, your surgeon may guide you through the days awaiting the surgery.
Let’s discuss a few things that can ensure that everything goes smoothly.
1. Gather Information
Gather information about hysterectomy, its procedure, complications, and recovery. Learn how to prepare for a hysterectomy, what to expect before and after the operation, and talk with the women who have undergone this surgery.
Collecting data regarding hysterectomy will also help you feel confident in your choice. If a situation arises where you may need to make immediate decisions, you are less likely to be caught off guard and feel overwhelmed.
2. Voice Your Concerns
Remember that the healthcare team is there to support and guide you through your treatment process. Don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns about the procedure, its risks, and complications with your gynecologist.
Even though your doctors have your medical records discuss your medical conditions with them. Walk them through your daily medicine intake, especially if you are taking blood-thinning medicines, and have the dose adjusted.
The use of anesthesia also makes a number of women uneasy. Don’t feel embarrassed, and speak to the relevant anaesthesiologist so you can take necessary precautionary measures.
3. Post-Op Medication Prescription
Post-operation medications usually involve painkillers, antibiotics, and a few other medicines depending on individual patients. As you prepare for a hysterectomy, don’t forget to ask your doctor for a prescription. Get them before your surgery so you have a stock of these medications when you need them.
4. Tend to Your Mental Health
Hysterectomy can take a toll on physical health and can take weeks for the patient to recover. It can bring a mixture of emotions ranging from anxiety to relief. Hence, don’t forget to take care of your mental health.
Talk to your friends and family regarding your surgeries and the emotions you may be feeling. Allocate ‘me-time’ where you can engage in activities you enjoy, away from medical bills, screening tests, and diagnostic scans.
If you are struggling with intense emotions, seek help from a professional who can guide you through your anxieties and help develop healthy coping strategies.
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5. Physical Therapy
Many women have complained of pelvic floor issues after hysterectomy, like urinary retention and loss of urinary bladder control. Train your pelvic floor as you prepare for a hysterectomy.
Kegel exercises are a good option for strengthening your pelvic muscles. Lie down on the floor and tighten your pelvic muscles for 3-5 seconds. Relax your muscles and try again.
A study has observed that kegel exercises improved bladder function and reduced urinary retention and urinary tract infections in women recovering from hysterectomy.
6. Weight Management
Studies have shown that obese women undergoing hysterectomies have higher blood loss and longer duration of surgery and hospitalization than those with average body weight.
Before you prepare for a hysterectomy, your doctor may likely guide you regarding weight loss. For surgery, it is important that you are physically fit, so avoid a restrictive diet and focus on balanced meals rich in protein and iron.
Work with a dietitian to make a practical meal plan and exercise regimen that you can manage along with the stress of the surgery. Take supplements like iron to build blood stores and vitamin C to maximize healing after surgery.
7. Stop Smoking
When you start to prepare for a hysterectomy, you might be asked by the doctor to quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of postoperative infections in patients after hysterectomy. It also enhances the probability of wound-related complications, slows down healing, and can cause breathing difficulties during the procedure.
Quit smoking at least 4-6 weeks before the surgery is scheduled so your lungs and immune system can heal.
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8. Plan Hospital Stay
The length of the hospital stay after hysterectomy is always unpredictable. You are likely to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days, but depending on individual cases and risks of complication, you may be at the hospital for weeks.
When you prepare for a hysterectomy, make sure you also plan for the days after the surgery. Pack a bag with your comfiest clothes, toiletries, hairbrush, and anything else you may need.
Ask your friends and family to stay at the hospital with you, look after your pets, or take care of the household chores for you.
9. Fast Before Surgery
A crucial step to consider when you prepare for a hysterectomy is fasting before the procedure. Most surgeries require a fast of six hours before the operation. Depending on the time of the surgery, you may want to skip the meal right before the surgery.
However, fasting time changes according to the type of hysterectomy, patient history, and the class of anesthesia used. It is essential to discuss the type and quantity of food you are allowed to consume with your anesthesiologist.
10. Plan a Comfy Outfit
Even though you will be given a hospital gown to wear during the surgery, make sure to wear a comfortable outfit. Tests and scans can take longer than you anticipate, and you want to be as relaxed as possible.
11. Medical Conditions
If you have any disease, monitor its parameters as you prepare for a hysterectomy. Even before you go through the surgery, make sure the doctors and nurses are aware of your other illnesses.
Get your vitals checked before the procedure starts. If you have medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, or heart issues, check in with the nurses and make sure they are well-managed.
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Tips to Ensure Speedy Recovery After Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy is a major surgery that can take about 1-2 months to recover afterward. Consider these few simple steps so you can have a smooth recovery process:
- Depending on the type of hysterectomy, blood loss, and risk of complications, you may be discharged within 2-3 days or asked to stay for at least a week.
- Laying in bed increases the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Try to walk around as much as you can to prevent the formation of blood clots in the thighs and legs.
- Discuss any concerns you may have with your medical staff before you are discharged.
- Abstain from sexual intercourse, intense exercise, and lifting heavy objects for at least six weeks after the surgery.
Prepare for a hysterectomy so your pre and post-operative care goes smoothly. Gather as much information as possible, so discuss your concerns with your healthcare team and set realistic expectations.
Take care of your health by engaging in physical activity, eating a balanced meal, and quitting smoking. Many women feel like going through a hysterectomy has affected their emotional well-being, so it is important to talk about your emotions with your support system or a psychologist.
Make sure that you and your healthcare providers are on the same page, enabling you to go through this surgery with confidence and a positive mindset.