Hysterectomy is one of the commonest gynaecological surgeries done in women. It is a safe procedure and has low risks of complications. Fortunately less than 10% of women experience a major or minor complication after hysterectomy. Risks of complications are higher after open abdominal hysterectomy than with the vaginal and laparoscopic abdominal procedures.
Consult a doctor immediately if:
- you develop sudden, severe lower abdomen or pelvic pain
- you feel giddy and lightheaded or feel very sick or cannot keep fluids down
- if the wound or suture site opens up (dehiscence). this is more common in cases with abdominal incision and women who are obese
- there is bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour.
Consult your doctor or go to the emergency room if:
- Fever lasts for more than a few days. Fever occurs during recovery and may vary from mild to severe. Fever may be caused because of bladder infection or wound infection. If fever occurs because of an infection it is usually treated with antibiotics.
- The incision site becomes swollen, red, or has pus or foul-smelling fluid coming from it (these are symptoms suggestive of infection).
- You feel tired or unwell (even after taking rest)—it may be due to blood loss. Mild to moderate blood loss may occur during hysterectomy. In some women the bleeding may continue through the recovery period. If blood loss during surgery or after surgery is significant, blood transfusion may be needed.
- You have difficulty in urination. During hysterectomy adjacent structures such as the bladder or ureter may get injured.
- You have trouble passing urine or stool, because of pain or swelling in your lower belly.
- You have questions or concerns about the surgery, your illness, or any medicine.
Besides the surgical risks and complications, there may be long-term physical and psychological effects of hysterectomy, such as depression and loss of sexual pleasure. If the ovaries are also removed, you will enter menopause and may experience menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Consult your doctor to know about ways to manage menopausal symptoms. It also increases your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Discuss with the doctor to know about ways to reduce your risk of these diseases.
Who to consult
Some health professionals besides your surgeon who can be consulted after hysterectomy include:
- Family medicine physicians.
- Gynaecologists (doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive tract).
- Nurse practitioners.
- Physician assistants.