What to do about constipation after hysterectomy surgery?
Bowel problems like constipation, bloating, irregular bowel movements and cramping are common complaints of women after hysterectomy.
Post hysterectomy constipation mostly resolves itself 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?
All of the following can lead to post-operative constipation.
- Narcotic pain medication
- Reduced food and fluid intake
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. Mind lying in your bed all day is something to avoid if you want to get your 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 normally 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 after hysterectomy surgery they are usually treated with fiber supplements (Metamucil, Citrucel, Fiber-Lax) and stool softeners (Colace).
Sometimes women involuntary hold their stool because they are afraid that straining will cause stress on the wound and the incision may open. If this is the case stool may build up in the rectum, and become very dry and hard. Then having a bowel movement can be difficult and painful. 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. These are often used for women after hysterectomy surgery. Well, known are Milk of Magnesia or MOM, Kristalose, and Miralax.
And 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. Oftentimes, a woman can continue to use a stool softener until her wounds are completely healed.
You can find a list of 29 natural remedies for constipation after hysterectomy at the website 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 helps because it 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 a detailed list of fiber-rich foods.