Reviewed for Medical Accuracy by Dr. Victoria Croog.
Hysterectomy is a common procedure for women with cancers of the reproductive organs. If you’re in this situation, you may find yourself wondering how to prepare for a hysterectomy. Read ahead for pre hysterectomy tips that will help make recovery easier.
In this article, we’ll look at the different types of hysterectomies, pre hysterectomy tips, and what to expect after the surgery. Cancer is a trying time and we’re here to make it easier for you!
Types of Hysterectomies
When a surgeon removes both the uterus and the cervix, it’s considered a hysterectomy. The different types of hysterectomies deal with the way that the doctor removes it and whether or not the doctor removes other organs, too.
For people with primary cancers of the uterus or endometrium (lining of the uterus), the surgery performed is called a total hysterectomy and involves removal of the uterus and cervix. A hysterectomy performed through an incision in the abdominal wall is called a total abdominal hysterectomy, whereas removal through the vagina is called a vaginal hysterectomy). Total laparoscopic hysterectomy may be performed as a minimally invasive option that does not require a larger incision into the abdominal wall and often leads to a shorter post-operative recovery period.
In many cases, a surgeon will also remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries during a hysterectomy; this is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, or BSO.
In primary cancers of the cervix (or when a uterine cancer demonstrates obvious involvement of the cervix), the tissue between the uterus/cervix and the pelvic sidewall (tissue called the parametria) is also removed in what is called a radical hysterectomy.
Talk to your doctor about the method they plan to use and the consequences of that specific procedure.
How to Prepare for a Hysterectomy
There are many ways to prepare for a hysterectomy to make the recovery as painless as possible.
Do Your Research. Make sure that you understand what procedures you’re receiving and what the recovery looks like. Talk to your employer about taking the appropriate amount of time off and arrange a ride for your appointments. If you live alone or are struggling to find transportation, we have some suggestions for you.
Talk to your Partner. One of the pre-hysterectomy tips we hear most frequently is how important it is that you are upfront with your partner about the surgery so that they are well-informed about the recovery time and effects of the surgery. This way, they can be on the lookout for complications and provide the support you need post-operation. It will be 1-2 months before you can have sex, so it could be good to set up ways to develop intimacy outside of sex while you’re recovering.
- Find a Support System. Before surgery is the perfect time to find a community of people who are experiencing something similar. This will help reduce anxiety prior to the operation and the anxiety you’ll feel afterwards. There are many support groups for people facing endometrial cancer and cervical cancer on social media platforms like Facebook if you can’t find one in your local area.
As always, recovery time depends on a combination of factors including which procedures you have done and your personal health. Most people leave the hospital within a few days of the surgery, but full recovery can take 6-8 weeks. While patients are encouraged to walk, they’re also encouraged to abstain from sex and heavy lifting of objects over 20 pounds for at least six weeks. Check with your doctor about what’s best for you given the procedure that you had and your current health.
After having any version of a hysterectomy, you will no longer be able to have a child naturally. If your ovaries are also removed, you will immediately start menopause and may have symptoms that come from that. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and lower libido are all common menopausal symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy post-operation may be an option for you that may help with these symptoms and allow your body to adjust more quickly to the dramatic changes to your anatomy.
Learn More About How to Prepare for a Hysterectomy With OneVillage
Regardless of where you are in your cancer journey, OneVillage is here to help. OneVillage is dedicated to providing the support, information, goods, and services that cancer patients need. Whether you’re wondering how to prepare for a hysterectomy or how to find a community of people like you, OneVillage is here. In addition to highly personalized recommendations and checklists to help you navigate your new normal, through our WishList feature we also allow supporters to contribute to a fund for your medical trips and other expenses. If you have any further questions about what OneVillage offers and site features, don’t hesitate to contact us.