Discharge Instructions for Vaginal Hysterectomy
Vaginal hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus and often the cervix. It takes 4 to 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.
Two types of vaginal hysterectomy
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 laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy or LAVH. If a hysterectomy is done vaginally, the cervix is always removed as well.
Plan to rest at home for 3 to 5 days after the surgery.
Take all prescribed medicine exactly as directed.
Continue the coughing and deep breathing exercises you learned in the hospital.
If you had LAVH, you will have several small incisions on your belly. 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 to expand your belly during the surgery. The pain may last up to 7 days.
If you have stitches inside your vagina, they will absorb over time and do not need to be taken out.
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 health care provider whether you should use a stool softener.
Full recovery may take 2 to 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 opioid or other narcotic pain medicines.
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 health care provider says it’s OK.
Avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4 to 6 weeks.
Ask others to help with chores and errands.
Bathe or shower according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Do not have sex until your health care provider says it’s OK.
Ask your health care provider when you can return to work.
You will visit the health care provider again to be sure you are healing well. Keep all follow-up appointments. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you have hot flashes, mood swings, or irritability. Medicine may help ease these symptoms.
Life after hysterectomy
Because the procedure removes your uterus, you will no longer have menstrual periods. You will not be able to become pregnant. Also, you may not need Pap tests if your cervix was removed. Your health care provider can discuss these and other changes with you.
When to call your health care provider
Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following after your surgery:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
Vaginal bleeding that is bright red or soaks more than 1 pad in 60 minutes
Smelly or green-colored discharge from the vagina
Shortness of breath or chest pain
Nausea or comiting that continues for more than 1 day or that make it impossible to eat or drink
Inability to move the bowels for 3 days
Loose or watery stools 2 or more times a day OR bloody stools
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