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Restoring Bowel Function with Chewing Gum after Hysterectomy

From the Hysterectomy Recovery Articles List

Restoring Bowel Function with Chewing Gum after HysterectomyCan chewing gum help restore post-op bowel function?


Recent studies have concluded that chewing gum after surgery could help restore bowel function more quickly. Further research is needed, but other findings are leaning toward the same conclusion.

Anesthesia and surgery disrupt the function of the bowel for a time. The trauma can make the bowel unable to pass its contents, which can then lead to pain, cramping, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can be especially uncomfortable following a hysterectomy.

The Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Tepecik Education and Research Hospital in Izimr, Turkey, conducted a study to determine if chewing gum shortly after an abdominal hysterectomy would hasten the return of bowel function following surgery to minimize uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms. As part of the study, half of the participants were asked to chew sugarless gum three times a day for thirty minutes. Though the study was small, only 149 patients, the results are promising. There were significant differences between the women who were asked to chew gum and those who were not--the majority in the gum chewing group experienced fewer symptoms and a shorter hospital stay.

A few years ago, ScienceDaily reported that Sanjay Purkayastha, B.Sc., M.R.C.S., and colleagues at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, analyzed some studies involving chewing gum after abdominal surgery. They, too, reported that there was evidence of significant bowel benefits. According to them, "Gum chewing is thought to act as a kind of 'sham feeding,' stimulating nerves in the digestive system, triggering the release of gastrointestinal hormones and increasing the production of saliva and secretions from the pancreas." Based on their analysis, they recommended further research be done to learn more about chewing gum and its postoperative benefits.

Another recent surgery was conducted with women undergoing gynecologic laparoscopic surgery. That study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics, Klinikum Klagenfurt am Woerthersee, Klagenfurt, Wien, Austriaalso, confirmed that those who chewed gum in the initial hours after surgery had beneficial effects on their bowel mobility.

Based on existing research, chewing gum during the early postoperative period may be an inexpensive means of hastening bowel function following surgery. It seems to be a well-tolerated treatment with minimal side effects. As such, you should ask your doctor if you can try chewing some sugarless gum following your hysterectomy to see if it will help quicken the return of your bowel function.


This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-24-2013 - 04:00 PM


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