11 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Hysterectomy

People usually know very little about hysterectomies. They might recall that their mom or an aunt went through the procedure, but not much more. I was one of those people. That was, until I unexpectedly had to have a radical hysterectomy because of a large ovarian tumour.

Almost two years later, I now know a lot more. I have written a book about my personal journey and host a podcast consisting of interviews with medical and health professionals. Both are titled: Never Waste a Good Hysterectomy 

I’m often asked what I think women who are considering a hysterectomy or recovering from one should know. So, here’s my top 11 “wish I had known this” list:  

  1. A hysterectomy is a big deal. Even though it is a common procedure (25% of women will have one by the age of 55), it is a very big operation which can take a long time to heal from emotionally and physically. Surgeons usually “sign off” after a few weeks, but the real recovery can take months. 
  2. It is important to get a doctor and surgeon that you trust and like. Bedside manners matter. If you are not happy, find another one.  
  3. Take as much control as you can. Make sure that you understand your options and ask whether what they want to do is necessary. Become familiar with the medical terminology – such as trachelectomy, oophorectomy, etc. so that you can feel empowered and understand what your procedure involves. Do not be rushed or patronised. Demand to be a partner in your health journey.  
  4. Make sure that you have systems in place for when you come home after the operation. You will not be able to do much for at least 3 weeks, or even longer if it is an abdominal surgery. Organise help for meals, domestic chores, childcare and pets.  
  5. Make sure that your partner understands what to expect, so they can support you.  
  6. TRUST YOUR BODY. Take pain medicine as prescribed if you are in pain. Don’t be a hero – it just takes longer to heal and makes life more difficult emotionally. Rest, rest and rest some more – even if it is months later.  
  7. You will need a team to help you recover. Apart from the help with domestic, child and pet demands, you will also need friends who you can talk to and will cheer you on. 
  8. Your recovery team should also include empathetic health care providers, such as a physiotherapist – especially one who is a pelvic floor expert, since many women experience problems related to their pelvic floor post-operative.   
  9. The recovery can be an emotional roller coaster – so don’t beat yourself up if you feel down, tearful or scared even months after the operation.  Seek help from a sympathetic therapist or GP if it gets too much.  
  10. Although most hysterectomies are performed without any problems, there can occasionally be complications. If anything doesn’t feel right – such as pain, bleeding, funny smells, oozing around the wound, etc., seek help immediately. Rather be safe than sorry.  
  11. If your ovaries were removed, hormonal changes will cause havoc on your body and emotions. This can happen even if you have gone through menopause. Make sure to get help from a hormone specialist to get through it. 

                      Although it’s a radical intervention, a hysterectomy can be lifesaving and life-improving. However, to have the best possible outcome, it is important that women are prepared, supported, and allow their bodies and minds lots of time to recover.  


                      ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

                      Melanie Verwoerd is the author of Never Waste a Good Hysterectomy and host of the podcast under the same title.

                      “Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”