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Your Post Op
Checkpoint 3-4
postop hysterectomy
Feeling Better? Feeling Blah?

Don't rush things!

If you are in week three or four, you may find that one day you feel great with a lot of energy and the next day you feel lousy and want to stay in bed.

HysterSisters has found that many women post-op hysterectomy begin to feel better during this time and may overdo things, trying to rush the recovery process. Try to ease back into your life as you feel better. Listen to your body if you are tired.

Find encouragement in comparing yourself to your first week instead of your best day. During weeks 3 and 4, it might seem as though you are taking two steps forward and one step backward--but this is still progress!

And, of course, if you find you are experiencing more and more lousy days, call your doctor's office.

The main thing to know is that while your tummy incision (if you have one or more) may appear to be healed, your internal stitches are still healing. Your newly healed tissues are beginning to take over for the dissolving stitches. This is why it's very important not to lift or strain your body even when your incision seems to look great.

You only have one chance to heal right. Take it easy and continue to pamper the princess!

Incision and Belly Care

During weeks 3 and 4, your incision may be itchy and perhaps give you strange sensations ranging from numbness to tingles. Your swelly belly may be bothersome as well, looking fine in the morning but feeling achy and swollen by the evening.

Many HysterSisters rub Vitamin E oil into closed incisions (of course, only after approval from the doctor!) to help with the healing and minimize scarring.

Ice packs or Binders are useful at this time to help provide additional support while keeping the incision area cold. Some HysterSisters don't want anything across their incision but others like the feeling of support. Panty girdles can also help provide support.

Achy Back?

A common HysterSister complaint in weeks 3-4 is an achy back.

Realize that you have had major surgery and are spending a great deal of time being inactive. Your abdominal muscles may be out of order and your back muscles may be working to compensate. Here are some suggestions that may be of help:

  • Change positions regularly on the couch or bed.
  • Take frequent short walks around your house and outside to get exercise.
  • Use a heating pad when needed.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol.
  • Concentrate on strengthening your tummy muscles by tightening your tummy while you are lying down.
  • Use a pillow in the small of your back when you sit upright.

What is This Smell and Spotting?

Around week 3 or 4, after your spotting has decreased or stopped altogether, the dissolving stitches in your vaginal cuff start .... dissolving! This means you might notice new spotting and perhaps some icky-looking thread-like bits in your panties. These are the stitches ~ they are very small and might be gray or purple-ish.

The dissolving fibers of these stitches seem to add to the discharge with an odor that isn't always pleasant and you may wonder about it. You should find that once the stitches are all dissolved and the healing has taken place, the odor plaguing you will be gone!

If the smell persists for more than a couple of days and if you have any fever, call the doctor.

And remember! ~ No douching allowed.

Post-Op Mini Periods

If you kept your cervix and ovaries, you might discover that as your body heals you begin to have mini-periods. This is because your cervix is part of your uterus and has the endometrial lining that still will be shed on a monthly basis just as before. However, many surgeons cauterize the cervix so that you will not have any mini periods.

Check with your surgeon if you retained your cervix and wonder about the possibility of continued periods post-hysterectomy.

Post-Op Video Weeks 3-4

Recovering from Hysterectomy in weeks 3-4. This video produced by HysterSisters.com provides you with answers to your questions and help for your surgery.

woman with doctor
What Can Happen if I Do Too Much?

Whether or not you have an abdominal incision with visible staples or stitches, with any type of hysterectomy you will have many (possibly hundreds of) internal stitches. It is this internal healing that can take anywhere from six months to a year to be complete.

If you strain yourself too soon, one of the most catastrophic things that can happen is that you can tear some of your stitches. This can result in bleeding, possibly even hemmoraging.

The trouble is that some of the damage you might do can cause long-term results which are not possible to detect while you are doing it. When your tissues are healing, they are very sensitive to being pulled and squeezed.

Scar tissue wants to form wherever there are internal incisions, and if there is even a tiny amount of bleeding inside it can cause areas to 'stick' together, with the result that bridges of scar tissue can form between organs or tissues that should not normally be connected.

These areas of scar tissue are called adhesions. They can grow over time until they occupy large areas of the pelvis and connect some or all of the organs there. Occasionally they can even grow nerves and their own blood supply. So be careful!

However, this does not mean lying in bed for six weeks! Some activity is necessary.

You should be easing back into your regular activity - keeping in mind your lifting restrictions and remembering to not push yourself too fast, too soon. Soon your energy level will return to match your physical ability.

Until then, be smart! Take care of yourself!

What is Light Housework?

If there was ever a time to send the "Super Woman Cape" to the cleaners, this is the time. Enlist the help of your family and friends! But in case you still have the energy to do light housecleaning, here is what you can do:

  • Water plants a cup at a time (no lifting, remember).
  • Dust.
  • Rinse dishes, load and unload dishwasher.
  • Have someone carry laundry to washer and dryer while you sort and start machine.
  • Fold clothes (but let others carry them upstairs and put them away!).
  • Answer phones and take messages.
  • Get mail, write checks for bills.
  • REST in between these little jobs.
  • If you feel anything pull or are too tired, stop and rest. Finish later if and when you can. But listen to your body ~ you don't want complications. Take it easy and do it gradually ~ getting back into your routines and building yourself up is nice to do.

    Remember; NO vacuuming, sweeping, or cleaning floors...NO carrying laundry across house to washer or clothes-line!

    Do's and Don'ts

    Bored? This isn't the time to re-tile your bathroom or paint the dining room. Even pulling weeds is too much strain on your tummy --so let the dandelions grow for now.

    Here is a list of our favorite things to do during your recovery:

    • Organize your photos into albums.
    • Watch your favorite movies.
    • Organize your favorite recipes to share with your family at Christmas.
    • Learn to knit or crochet and make an afghan in fun colors for your couch.
    • Listen to books on tapes.
    • Enjoy a jigsaw puzzle or online game sites.
    • Sit on your front/back porch and listen to the birds.
    • Ease into an exercise routine *with your doctor's guidance*.
    • Visit the Pre-op and Post-op Forum discussions to reply to HysterSisters' questions and participate in discusions.

    But be careful and don't:

    • Lift anything over 10 pounds.
    • Vacuum.
    • Mow your yard.
    • Visit your place of employment. (They will think you are well enough to come back to work!)

    Post Op Hysterectomy
    Post-Op Resources

    Our Post-Op Discussions
    Our Post-Op Resource Links
    Our Post-Op Articles
    Help for Husbands

    Hints from HysterSisters

    Released to drive? Don't plan a long trip. You may find that you feel well enough to drive but are too tired to walk across the parking lot.

    Wal-Mart can be explored in an electric shopping cart if you have to get out of the house.

    Released for a bath? Don't add bubbles on your first dip ~ but candles and your favorite cold drink will make it extra special.

    Organizing Paperwork and Surgery Report

    Now is a good time to get a copy of your surgery report, including your pathology report, for your files. This is a simple idea but one worth doing in case you need the information later.

    Either ask your doctor's office for a copy or get one from your hospital. Some hospitals charge a small fee while others provide it for free.

    Once you get your copy, put it in a folder, labeled with the date of your surgery, the name of your surgeon, and the name of your hospital and keep it in a safe place.

    As papers from your hospital stay and doctor's offices accumulate, keep them in your folder in one place. You may need to refer to them as you deal with medical insurance or filing additional reports.

    Preparing for Your Post Op Appointment

    Keep a pad of paper handy and begin to write down your questions and concerns for your post-op checkup with your surgeon.

    Consider asking questions with your concerns about:

    • your incision
    • any aches or tenderness you continue to experience
    • ongoing pain requiring medication
    • any menopausal symptoms (insomnia, hot flashes, etc) you are experiencing
    • your emotional well-being
    • concerns about returning to work
    • your return to your exercise program
    • your return to sexual activity
    • hormone therapy

    Managing Menopause

    At this point in your recovery, your hormone levels may still be fluctuating--whether or not you kept your ovaries, and whether or not you are on hormone replacement. If you no longer have your ovaries your body is depleting the supply of hormones you had before surgery; you may notice menopausal symptoms as these reserves dwindle. Keep a journal of the symptoms you have so that you can share them with your doctor at your follow-up appointments. This will help indicate if changes in your hormone replacement need to be made, or in the case of women who kept their ovaries, if perhaps adding some estrogen would help until the ovaries recovery from the shock of surgery.

    For women who choose not to or can?t use hormone replacement, please visit the No-Hormone Desert Oasis.

    Thinking About Sexuality

    The rule is generally this: Nothing in your vagina until your post-op checkup when your surgeon checks your vaginal stitches and gives you the green light to resume sexual intercourse.

    This includes all forms of sexual activity unless your doctor has specifically released you.

    We know that during the first month post-op, HysterSisters may experience a heightened sense of libido. While there is no known medical reason, it is suggested that surges in hormone levels and renewed healing may tempt the HysterSister to participate in sex before release by the surgeon.

    Be aware! Hystersisters have reports of women who didn't wait. Torn or infected stitches may send you back for more surgery and an extended recovery period.

    When in doubt, ask your doctor!

    Be Fit!

    Your best return to a life of fitness begins with walking. Increase your level of activity slowly, lengthening the distance you walk and increasing your speed slightly.

    Begin to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by learning Kegel exercises. These exercises can help you during this recovery process and for long after by strengthening your pelvic muscles.

    Eat healthy foods and increase your activity level slightly each day as you feel better.

    By the time you see your doctor for your post-op checkup, your surgeon should release you to resume all activites including normal workouts at the gym, running, biking or whatever form of exercise you enjoy.

    You weren't working out pre-hysterectomy? Now is the best time to commit to a fitter and healthier you!

    Be Encouraged!

    Crying? Feeling frustrated? Having temper tantrums?

    Besides the fact that your hormones are surging up and down, causing you to cry during long-distance commercials on TV, this may be a point in your recovery where you feel totally and utterly discouraged at your progress. One day you feel great and the next day you feel as though a train had run over you, dragged your body down the tracks and over a cliff.

    Be patient with yourself.

    You have been through a lot and your body simply needs to heal.

    Be kind and patient with yourself and allow the healing to continue.

    Products We Recommend

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    The following is created and sponsored by Noven Therapeutics, LLC.

    Watch & Listen

    Dr. Michele Curtis shares information and tips for each phase of your hysterectomy journey. These videos are not intended to provide medical advice on personal health matters, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

    Dr. Michele Curtis

    Dr. Michele Curtis has been active in the practice of Ob/Gyn for over 20 years in both private practice and a teaching academic institution. Public health policy issues have been her passion—allowing her to be selected for a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship to work closely with the CDC and the Jacob’s Institute for Women’s Health. She is a sought-after national speaker, has served as the lead editor for two gynecologic textbooks, and has published on a variety of topics in numerous peer-reviewed journals. Her international work has focused on sex- and gender-based violence in times of conflict.

    About Noven

    Noven Therapeutics, LLC. is the specialty pharmaceutical unit of Noven Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Noven is engaged in the research, development, manufacturing, marketing, and sale of prescription pharmaceutical products. Noven is committed to developing and offering products and technologies that benefit patients, customers, and industry partners.

    Post-Op Checkpoint Weeks 3 & 4

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