Everything You Wanted to Know About Hysterectomies – But Were Afraid to Ask

Okay – that’s a lie. I won’t share everything you wanted to know about hysterectomies, but I will share quite a bit because I had one three weeks ago, and of course, in internet speak, that makes me an expert. It really doesn’t, but I’m here to share my experience in all its fresh glory.

What is a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. A woman may have a hysterectomy for different reasons, including uterine fibroids that cause pain, bleeding, or other problems. Uterine prolapse, which is a sliding of the uterus from its normal position into the vaginal canal. Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries. Endometriosis. Abnormal vaginal bleeding. Chronic pelvic pain. Thickening of the uterus.

The reason I had to have a hysterectomy was because of uterine prolapse. Which is just as uncomfortable as it sounds to you, and you’re only reading about it. I decided to talk about a hysterectomy when my OBGYN let me know that we could do a “repair” of my uterus and stitch it into place OR remove it and just make me more comfortable in general.

The decision did not come lightly as I mourned not having any more children, but after my youngest son had his tonsils and adenoids removed and we had to give him pain medication for 10 days every three hours, I realized that my psyche probably wasn’t really strong enough for another child in the Nicholes clan. Got it? Good.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Hysterectomies - But Were Afraid to Ask
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Types of Hysterectomy

In the interest of time, I’ll let you know that I had a total hysterectomy. The removal of my uterus and cervix. There are also hysterectomies that remove only part of the uterus leaving the cervix in place – referred to as a supracervical hysterectomy and hysterectomies that do the same thing as a total hysterectomy but also removes tissue from the sides of the uterus and the top portion of the vagina.

Contrary to popular belief, ovaries aren’t automatically removed with a hysterectomy and the actual removal of them is called a Oophorectomy. The removal of Fallopian tubes is referred to as a Salpingectomy. So, long story short, I had a total hysterectomy with a salpingectomy.

How is a Hysterectomy Performed?

Back in the day, hysterectomies were done by cutting women across the abdomen area in the same way that c-sections happened. Remember back then c-sections were done by slice DOWN the belly instead of in the bikini area. Thank goodness for medical growth.

Now, hysterectomies are performed vaginally or laparoscopically when able, and the recovery time is so much quicker than the former way of surgery. I will say that my incisions from my hysterectomy stopped hurting a LOT sooner than my incision from the c-section I had with the twins. They created magnificent bruises, but they stopped hurting me about five days in. I’m still recovering and wasn’t able to walk comfortably until two weeks after the surgery.

Recovery After a Hysterectomy

Recovery has been quite interesting. For the most part, recovery has been normal for me. The things that happened while in surgery were the ones that weren’t normal.

As with any surgery done laparoscopically, your stomach is blown up with air, so that surgeons can see what they are doing in such a tight space. I had 5 incisions on my stomach. My belly button and two on each side of it. These were entry points for the surgical robot to go in and perform the surgery. They were also the sites of some pretty ugly bruising. It was glorious really.

After my uterus was severed from my person, it was removed. Because I had stress incontinence, they also inserted a piece of mesh in my urethra (not typical for hysterectomies) to help me NOT pee on myself daily. Well, all of the work going on through my vagina and the position that I was in during the surgery caused my rectum to be bruised. Which leads me to this fact.

Bruised rectums are the cause of pain when attempting to pass gas or poop. Passing gas should have been something that I could have done without effort several days after the surgery, but it caused pain so great that I ended up crying on the toilet. It wasn’t a fun time in the Houseful of Nicholes.

It took ten days, Fleet, Miralax, a $60 jar of ointment, and a REALLY bad knock-knock joke told by my youngest daughter to get things moving, and the relief was so sweet I can’t compare it to anything tangible. All I know is, I had never been so grateful to poop a poop and told anyone who would listen about it. So, if you have a hysterectomy, and you haven’t pooped in more than three or four days, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. I did call mine – but it took a while for them to figure out the bruised and blocked rectum portion. Fun times.

Sex After Hysterectomy

Before surgery I was told that my sex life could greatly change. From the lowering of my libido to it possibly shooting through the roof and having no adverse side effects on anything.

I’m writing nine weeks after the hysterectomy (yes, this is an edit) to let you know that six weeks after the surgery was quite a feat. The entire ordeal had the Mr. and I feeling like we were back at trying it for the first time. Nothing hurt, but, um the pipes weren’t watered properly and we needed a bit of help getting ready. Add to that a dog bite by the famous Dennis the dog having me prescribed with antibiotics, and well, NOTHING worked well. Antibiotics already wreak havoc on the system of a woman, but added to the healing from a hysterectomy and not only was there dryness but total discomfort. The disruption to vaginal flora from the antibiotics on TOP of just being “off,” was not pleasant.

Two months after the fact, we’re all good, even though certain things still aren’t working like they did when we were in our twenties. So now, I have had to find aids to help with moisture a couple of times, and you know what? I’m not even embarrassed. My body has been through some things and in order to use it the way that I want, I have to give it a little bit of help. Good thing I have a spouse who is a little more patient than I am, because it’s easy to get frustrated when you are READY but your body isn’t.

Hysterectomy Health Update

It’s May, and I’ve traveled to Austin, Texas and Portland, Maine without any trouble. However, Austin, Texas took place exactly 6 weeks after the surgery and I was a swollen mess by the last day of my conference. I was a cutely dressed swollen mess, but I was swollen. It is what it is. Portland, Maine didn’t see me as swollen, but my salt intake was far lower since no tacos were present and my water intake was WAY up since I was traveling with Michelle from Divas With A Purpose. She’s a HUGE water drinker mostly because she likes her water room temp.

I’m taking the days as they come, and still waiting for my digestive system to turn the wheel over to me. While I’m regular, My muscle control isn’t at 100% so LOTS of walking helps me handle things.

IN CONCLUSION (how many of you all ended essays this way?) I’m quite pleased with my results from having the hysterectomy, but being aware of what I should be feeling because I asked questions of my surgeon and wasn’t shy about anything. Seriously. They’ve heard ALL the questions. If something concerns you, ask them. You are still in control.

If you’re up for a hysterectomy soon, and want to ask questions of someone who has been there done that, I’m here!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Der
    May 13, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    I’m glad you spoke about the. Bruised rectum I experienced the same pain but thought it was normal. Also about the removal of the ovaries I was a little pissed to find out I had a total hysterectomy but still had my ovaries ( I only found this out after one developed a cyst and that cyst burst and I was bleeding) I had the regular incision ( like a c section) and went back to work 13days later

  • Reply
    BW
    May 13, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    I really appreciate you candidness regarding this subject. While a hysterectomy is a widely discussed topic in some circles regarding the pros and the cons and the process, there are some perks (if I may). In the early years of my marriage, cramps, heavy bleeding and constipation were prevalent. Fast forward- I am enjoying my life despite the stigma of not having a uterus. I enjoy time with my spouse more freely, no heavy bleeding, no cramps. There is an abundant life to be lived afterwards

  • Reply
    Ch-ch-changes - Hysterectomy Recovery Items
    May 14, 2019 at 11:57 am

    […] I talked about my hysterectomy and today, I’m going to talk about the changes that I’ve had to deal with AND the tools […]

  • Reply
    Clarissa
    May 21, 2019 at 7:23 am

    I haven’t had a hysterectomy, but I will always have the memory etched in my mind of when my Mom has hers, although she never talked to me about it. I am so proud of you for being so open and honest about what you went through.

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