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It has been a long time coming, but I am finally ready to share some tips for Coping with Long Term Hysterectomy Side Effects. It’s been almost three years since I underwent a total laparoscopic hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Those fancy words just say they took my ovaries, uterus, and cervix using a minimally invasive procedure. Over these three years, I have definitely learned a lot about my body, and have become an advocate for women’s health. I’m excited to partner with Depend® in honor of National Caregivers Day and share my experiences after a hysterectomy with you.
Coping with Long Term Hysterectomy Side Effects
There are tons of things that people ask me every day in regards to how my body changed after having a hysterectomy. Sharing these experiences is one of the things I love most about being a blogger. Daily I receive comments on prior blog posts or emails asking about how I cope with different things in regards to hysterectomy side effects. It’s time I dive into this full force to help those of my sisters out there (as well as their caregivers) also going through this process.
Types of Hysterectomy you or your loved one might have had
- Partial hysterectomy: removal of the uterus but leaves the cervix intact. Typically done with an open abdominal incision and more invasive
- Standard hysterectomy: removal of both the uterus and cervix
- Total hysterectomy: removal of the uterus, cervix, and one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes
Accept that no two people have the same experience
Some things that I am asked on a regular basis, are things I have yet to experience. Other things, I am the queen of understanding because I, too, have gone through them. When it comes to a hysterectomy – no two people have identical experiences. If you are caring for someone who has had a hysterectomy, it’s important to keep this in mind. I can give you advice about what I experienced, but that doesn’t mean that you will go through the same struggles.
My long-term hysterectomy side effects:
- Fast extreme weight gain within the first 6 months. I gained over 50 pounds in a short time immediately after hysterectomy
- Inability to tolerate hormone replacement therapy
- Hot flashes and overall “temperature” struggles
- Faster body hair growth due to more testosterone
Other common hysterectomy side effects I did NOT experience:
- Insomnia or sleep struggles
- Physical intimacy difficulties or discomfort due to dryness
- Skin changes – more oily or drier than before
- Thinning hair or Greying hair
- Mood swings or emotional struggles
- Feeling like less of a woman without those body parts
Additionally, for me, there were struggles that happened after my hysterectomy that contributed to two of my struggles. Both my weight gain and temperature struggles had something to do with my a thyroid disorder and diabetes that went undiagnosed for a year post-hysterectomy.
Prepare for minor inconveniences
I shared a few years ago about post hysterectomy struggles, but long-term, there are more things you or the person you are caring for may have to consider. Coping with these is a case-by-case situation. They are not something that everyone struggles with after a hysterectomy, and many are short-term.
- Physical discomfort post-surgery due to incisions, anesthesia, surgical procedures, and a hospital stay.
- Urinary incontinence due to having a catheter placed during surgery, as well as physical difficulty getting up and down fast enough for the bathroom. Some also have incontinence post-surgery due to the shifting of their bladder after uterus removal. Pelvic floor weakness is a common struggle for those who have had a hysterectomy or other pelvic region surgery.
- Hemorrhoids and difficulty with bowel movements due to anesthesia immediately after surgery, and/or use of pain medications. This can also continue as your body adjusts to different hormone levels.
- Bloating and “swelly belly” post-surgery as your body adjusts and goes back to normal. This is a traumatic surgery to undergo, and it takes considerable time for your body to fully heal.
- Dehydration is a common struggle as you adjust to your body changes. It may feel like the more you drink, the more you have to go to the bathroom, but it is because your body is learning to process fluids the right way. Don’t get dehydrated. Ever. It’s just not worth the frustration.
Don’t let anyone tell you to “just deal with it”
One of the best things I did before I had my hysterectomy was to prepare for some of these inconveniences. I remember my husband laughing when I purchased Depend Underwear, but after the surgery, they saved me from some embarrassing situations. If you are caring with someone who has just had the surgery, it’s very likely they will go through the same situations. During the healing process, as well as now when I exercise, my pelvic floor just isn’t as strong as it used to be. That sometimes results in leakage that I really don’t want to have turned into a full-blown accident. Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear has the fastest absorbing material inside that kept me dry and comfortable, regardless of the situation or location. This feature is a must when looking for protection if you lead a busy lifestyle.
Become an advocate for your health
Only you can truly know how your body feels. There are so many things out there that you can feel or struggle with that are overlooked because your doctor or nurse doesn’t know what it feels like to be inside your body. Learn to become your greatest advocate. If you are a caregiver, it’s important that you take the time to listen. In my case, I had a wonderful doctor who I loved, but I just felt that he was overlooking the unreasonable weight gain. “Once you lose weight this will get better” was not the answer I needed.
I sought out other physicians, and after trial and error a few times, I found a doctor who is amazing and truly listens. She looked at me as an individual with physical struggles, not as an obese woman with side effects. After some appropriate lab work was completed, we found out I had further thyroid struggles than initially diagnosed, and that I was also diabetic. Her listening ear and my decision to advocate until I was heard meant I could get on track. The right medications meant my thyroid started working, and my blood sugar was in control. As a result, the weight started coming off slowly, and many side effects disappeared completely.
If you are a caregiver, become an advocate for your patient
Whether you are a caregiver of someone who is bedridden, or just the one helping out after a friend or spouse has had a hysterectomy, you too must be an advocate for your patient. That sometimes looks like making phone calls until a doctor gets back to you with test results. Other times it is making your patient more comfortable going through daily life as they heal.
If your patient is incontinent but still wants to lead an active lifestyle as much as possible, Depend FIT-FLEX Underwear gives them the option to feel protected from links.
Depend brand is offering up to 50 Free Caregiver Toolkits that includes Depend FIT-FLEX Underwear and an assortment of self-care products. To receive a free Depend Caregiver Toolkit, please visit HERE. For more information, follow Depend on Depend.com and on Facebook.