Side effects after surgery
After surgery for cancer of the uterus, you may experience some of these side effects:
If your ovaries are removed and you have not been through menopause, removal will cause immediate menopause. Menopause can cause significant emotional and physical changes. For ways to manage menopausal symptoms, see menopause and if you are worried about fertility, see fertility.
Impact on sexuality
The changes you experience after surgery may affect how you feel about sex and how you respond sexually. You may notice changes such as vaginal dryness and loss of libido. If you have concerns, you may find it helpful to talk to a psychologist or counsellor.
The removal of lymph nodes from the pelvis can stop lymph fluid draining normally, causing swelling in the legs or, sometimes, the vulva. This is known as lymphoedema. The risk of developing lymphoedema is low after most operations for cancer of the uterus, but the risk is higher if you have had a full lymphadenectomy followed by external beam radiation therapy. Symptoms may appear gradually, sometimes years after the treatment.
Vaginal vault prolapse
This is when the top of the vagina drops towards the vaginal opening because the structures that support it have weakened. Having a hysterectomy does not appear to increase the risk of vaginal vault prolapse in women without pelvic floor issues. Prolapse is more commonly caused by childbirth and weak pelvic floor muscles. Doing pelvic floor exercises several times a day can help to prevent prolapse. Talk to your treatment team about doing these exercises.
For more on this, see Exercise during cancer treatment.
Podcast: Sex and Cancer
A/Prof Orla McNally, Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist, Director Oncology/Dysplasia, Royal Women’s Hospital, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, University of Melbourne, and Director of Gynaecology Tumour Stream, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Yoland Antill, Medical Oncologist, Peninsula Health, Parkville Familial Cancer Centre, Cabrini Health and Monash University, VIC; Grace Guerzoni, Consumer; Zeina Hayes, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Bronwyn Jennings, Gynaecology Oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mater Hospital Brisbane, QLD; A/Prof Christopher Milross, Director of Mission and Radiation Oncologist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Mariad O’Gorman, Clinical Psychologist, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre and Bankstown Cancer Centre, NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.