Side effects of surgery
After surgery for cervical cancer, you may have some side effects.
Problems with how the bladder works
If some of the nerves to the bladder were removed during the hysterectomy, you may feel that you’re not able to empty your bladder completely or that you’re emptying your bladder too slowly. These problems improve with time. You may find that you leak some urine after surgery. This is called urinary incontinence. For more on this, see Bladder changes.
The pain medicines used during and after surgery can cause constipation (difficulty having bowel movements). Your treatment team may suggest medicines to help prevent or relieve constipation. Once your surgeon says you can get out of bed, walking around can also help. For more on this, see Bowel changes.
Sometimes removing lymph nodes in the pelvic area can stop or slow the natural flow of lymphatic fluid. This may cause lymphoedema, which is a build-up of fluid in the soft tissues under the skin. For more on this, see Lymphoedema.
If your ovaries are removed and you have not been through menopause, removal will cause sudden menopause. After menopause, you will stop having periods and you will not be able to become pregnant. For more on this, see Menopause.
Impact on sexuality
The physical and emotional changes you have after surgery may affect how you feel about sex, but surgery doesn’t change the ability to feel pleasure. For more on this, see Impact on sexuality and intimacy.
Internal scar tissue (adhesions)
Tissues in the pelvis may stick together. Sometimes adhesions to the bowel or bladder may cause abdominal pain or discomfort. Rarely, adhesions may need to be treated with surgery.
For more on this, see our general section on Surgery.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Pearly Khaw, Lead Radiation Oncologist, Gynae-Tumour Stream, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Deborah Neesham, Gynaecological Oncologist, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Frances Perry House, VIC; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, VIC; Dr Alison Davis, Medical Oncologist, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Krystle Drewitt, Consumer; Shannon Philp, Nurse Practitioner, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and The University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, NSW; Dr Robyn Sayer, Gynaecological Oncologist Cancer Surgeon, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Megan Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Cancer Council NSW; Melissa Whalen, Consumer.
We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum
Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment
Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer
Surgery is a medical treatment performed by a surgeon or a surgical oncologist to remove cancer from the body or repair a part of the body affected by cancer
Recovery after surgery
What to expect in the hospital recovery room and ward
Caring for someone having surgery
Tips for the support person and visitors