Taking care of yourself at home after a hysterectomy
Your recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you had, your age and general health. In most cases, you will feel better within 1–2 weeks and should be able to fully return to usual activities after 4–8 weeks.
If you don’t have support from family, friends or neighbours, ask your nurse or a social worker at the hospital whether it is possible to get help at home while you recover.
Rest upWhen you get home from hospital, you will need to take things easy for the first week. Ask family or friends to help you with chores so you can rest as much as you need to.
NutritionTo 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.
WorkYou will probably need 4–6 weeks of leave from work, depending on the type of surgery and nature of your job. People who have had keyhole surgery and have office jobs that don’t require heavy lifting can often return to work after 2–4 weeks.
DrivingYou will need to avoid driving after the surgery until you are able to move freely without pain. Discuss this issue with your doctor. Check with your car insurer for any exclusions regarding major surgery and driving.
LiftingYou may be advised to avoid heavy lifting (more than 3–4 kg) for 4–6 weeks. This will depend on the way the surgery was done.
Bowel problemsIt is important to avoid straining during bowel movements (pooing). Talk to your treatment team about the best way to manage constipation.
BathingYour doctor may advise taking showers instead of baths for 4–5 weeks after surgery.
ExerciseYour treatment team will probably encourage you to walk the day of the surgery. Exercise has been shown to help people manage some treatment side effects and speed up a return to usual activities. Speak to your doctor about suitable exercise. To avoid infection, it’s best to avoid swimming for 4–5 weeks after surgery.
SexSexual intercourse should be avoided for about 8-12 weeks after surgery. 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.
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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.
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