What to do about constipation after hysterectomy?
Bowel problems like constipation, bloating, irregular bowel movements, cramping and severe pelvic pain are common complaints of women after hysterectomy.
Post hysterectomy bowel problems mostly resolve themselves within days or weeks of the surgery, but there are also women that suffer from long term bowel complications.
What causes constipation and gas after hysterectomy?
Anesthetics, narcotic pain medication, immobility and reduced food and fluid intake all can lead to post operative constipation. Anesthetics do not only put you to sleep but also paralyze your bowels during surgery. Before and after surgery you may have had a minimal to eat and drink and this may delay the start of normal bowel movement. Plus lying still in bed is not going to get the bowels moving again.
How to avoid constipation after hysterectomy?
So what should you do to get those bowels going after surgery?
1. You can eat normal after your hysterectomy. This is sometimes difficult if you are in pain or vomiting. But you should try, even if it is small, frequent portions. Sometimes it is better to start with soft foods like soups, puddings, applesauce and tender meat until you have your first bowel movement.
2. You need to drink enough fluids after the operation as they will help to soften the stools.
3. Get out of bed and start walking as soon as you can. This will not only reduce the risk of constipation but also prevent blood cloths.
Treating constipation after hysterectomy.
When women do get constipated post operative they are usually treated with fiber supplements (Metamucil, Citrucel, Fiber-Lax) and stool softeners (Colace).
Sometimes these treatments do not help. It is possible that stool build up in the rectum and becomes very dry and hard. In this case a laxative suppository may help to get rid of this plug and empty the rectum.
Use laxatives with care as they are not all the same. There are osmotic laxatives that draw water from the colon’s surrounding tissues to soften the stool. They are often used for women after hysterectomy surgery. Well known are Milk of Magnesia or MOM, Kristalose, and Miralax.
There are also stimulant laxatives that, as the name suggests, stimulate the inner lining of the bowel and can cause painful bowel contractions and diarrhea. A few examples include Senokot, Correctol and Dulcolax.
Before using any type of laxative after gynecological surgery always ask your surgeon first, what he recommends in your situation.
Some women are afraid that straining will cause stress on the wound, both internal and external, and this may cause the incision to open. If so, she may want to continue using a stool softener until her wounds are completely healed.
You can find a list of 29 natural remedies for constipation after hysterectomy at the web site of the Hysterectomy Association.co.uk.
Post hysterectomy diet recommendations.
After you leave the hospital, adding plenty of fiber to your diet will reduce the risk of bowel problems like constipation after hysterectomy.
Fiber in food is not digested or absorbed, this means that it stays in the intestine where it aids digestion and regulates the consistency of stool.
Foods rich in fiber include:
• Fruits and juices
• Vegetables cooked or raw
• Bread, pasta and flour
• Pasta and rice
See detailed list of fiber rich foods.