Taking care of yourself at home after surgery
Your recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you had, your general health, and your support at home. If you don’t have support from family, friends or neighbours, ask your nurse or the hospital social worker if it’s possible to get help at home.
In most cases, you will feel better within 1–2 weeks and should be able to fully return to your usual activities after 4–8 weeks. Ask your treatment team for more information about your particular circumstances.
Rest upWhen you get home from hospital, take things easy and do only what is comfortable. You may like to try meditation or some relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety or tension.
LiftingAvoid heavy lifting (more than 3–4 kg) or heavy work (e.g. gardening) for at least 4 weeks. This will depend on the method of the surgery.
WorkDepending on the type of work you do, you will probably need time off work. Ask your treatment team how long this might be.
DrivingYou will need to avoid driving after the surgery until pain in no way limits your ability to move freely. Discuss this issue with your doctor. Check with your car insurer for any exclusions regarding major surgery and driving.
Eat wellTo help your body recover from surgery, eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. Include proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, nuts, and legumes/beans.
Bowel problemsYou may have constipation after having a hysterectomy and taking strong pain medicines. You will probably be offered stool softeners while you’re taking pain medicines and until your bowel movements return to normal.
ExerciseYour treatment team will probably encourage you to walk the day of the surgery. Research suggests that exercise helps manage some treatment side effects and speed up a return to usual activities. Speak to your doctor about suitable exercise and ask for a referral to an exercise physiologist. To avoid infection, it’s best to avoid swimming for 4–5 weeks after surgery.
SexSexual intercourse should be avoided for up to 8 weeks after a hysterectomy. Ask your doctor or nurse when you can have sex again, and explore other ways you and your partner can be intimate, such as massage.
For more on this, see our general section on Surgery.
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Dr Nisha Jagasia, Gynaecological Oncologist, Mater Hospital Brisbane, QLD; Sue Hayes, Consumer; Bronwyn Jennings, Gynaecology Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mater Health, QLD; Dr Andrew Lee, Radiation Oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre and Canberra Hospital, ACT; A/Prof Tarek Meniawy, Medical Oncologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Caitriona Nienaber, Cancer Council WA; Jane Power, Consumer; A/Prof Sam Saidi, Senior Staff Specialist, Gynaecological Oncology, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW.
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