Thumbnail image of: Female Pelvis: Illustration

Hysterectomy, Vaginal, Discharge Information

What is a vaginal hysterectomy?

A vaginal hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus through the vagina. The uterus is the muscular organ at the top of the vagina. Babies develop in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus. The type of surgery you have to remove the uterus may be one of the following:

  • Total hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus and the cervix. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may also be removed.
  • Subtotal hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the top part of the uterus (called the fundus), but leave the cervix in place
  • Radical hysterectomy: Surgery to remove the uterus with the cervix and the tissue on the sides of the cervix and possibly part of the vagina

Your provider may use a tool called a laparoscope inserted through a small cut in the abdomen to help with the removal. A laparoscope is a thin tube with a light and tiny camera.

Some of the problems that may be treated with a hysterectomy are:

  • Tumors in the uterus
  • Constant heavy bleeding that has not been controlled with other treatments
  • Abnormal growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus (called endometriosis) that causes pain or bleeding that has not been controlled with other treatments
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • A fallen (sagging) uterus
  • Precancerous or cancerous cells or tissue on the cervix, in the uterus, or on the lining of the inside of the uterus (called the endometrium)

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the reason you needed the hysterectomy and any additional treatments you may need in the hospital.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you are to take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Soften stool and reduce straining with a bowel movement
    • Help relieve some of the symptoms of menopause if your ovaries were removed
  • If you have a laparoscopy incision, keep your surgery site clean.

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids
  • Try to find people to help you with your day-to-day duties.
  • Do not do any heavy lifting or otherwise strain the stomach muscles for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Do not put anything in the vagina, including tampons, or have sex until your provider says it is okay.
  • If you were having menstrual periods before the surgery, you will no longer have them after the operation. You cannot become pregnant.
  • If your ovaries were removed, menopause starts right away.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Swelling, redness, or pain in your legs
  • Chest Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Change in bowel habits, such as pain, mucus, diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
    • The area around the wound is more red or painful
    • The wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
    • You have chills or muscle aches
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-30
Last reviewed: 2014-04-15
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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