Having a hysterectomy can be a very daunting prospect, not least because it is major surgery and cannot be reversed.
Most women will be concerned about what to expect if they agree to have a hysterectomy and what is involved in the pre-hysterectomy preparation.
You may like to know how to best prepare for your this surgery, including tips on how you can help yourself to recover more quickly afterward.
Hysterectomy Preparation – Questions to Ask
When you are first advised to have a hysterectomy, you will no doubt have lots of questions about what to expect and whether there are any alternative treatments that could improve your quality of life.
Some of the questions to ask your doctor and yourself before you commit to having a hysterectomy include:
- Is there any other treatment that could be an option and do I definitely need a hysterectomy?
- If I am already close to the age of a natural menopause, is it possible that my symptoms could improve during the menopause or after it? (This can sometimes happen with fibroids, for example).
- What if I decide not to go ahead with having a hysterectomy?
- Will my symptoms definitely be relieved if I have a hysterectomy or is there a chance that they will still be there afterward?
- Will I have an abdominal, laparoscopic or vaginal hysterectomy and how will this affect my recovery?
- Do I need to have my ovaries and cervix removed as well as my uterus? Could I leave them intact for now and have my ovaries removed in a more minor operation at a later date if needs be?
- Am I prepared for the possibility of going into early menopause (depending on the type of hysterectomy and what is removed)?
Being prepared is absolutely key. Given the nature of this operation and the fact that reproductive organs are removed – there isn’t any going back afterward so you need to be sure that you have exhausted all other treatment options first.
Instructions for Hysterectomy Preparation
If you are overweight, your hysterectomy preparation may involve losing some weight in the run-up to your hysterectomy. Carrying a bit too much weight can make surgery and anesthesia riskier. It can affect how long your surgery takes and how much blood you may lose during it.
Smoking can also increase anesthesia risks and generally slows down recovery time after surgery. This means it can be a good move to quit before your hysterectomy if you are currently a smoker.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it’s usually the case that you should not eat or drink after midnight on the day of your hysterectomy.
In the week before your hysterectomy, try to keep yourself hydrated to reduce the risk of constipation. This is common after surgery, particularly abdominal surgery. It can be more of a problem if you have been dehydrated.
In the day leading up to your hysterectomy, it’s a good idea to avoid eating heavy foods. Your doctor will probably give you advice on what to eat and if you need any bowel preparation.
Hysterectomy Preparation Checklist for Hospital Stay
Some of the things to pack for your hospital stay include:
Hysterectomy preparation for your recovery
Can you get some help around the home and stay off work while you recover? You have to think about this kind of things before you go into hospital. It’s important for your recovery that you take it easy once they discharge you.
You may like to prepare meals for the family in advance and freeze them. It’s also a good idea to plan who is going to take you home after the operation as you will not be allowed to drive yourself.
Pre Op Assessments
Before your surgery, you will need to have a few tests to make sure that you are in a good position to have the operation. Preoperative assessments usually take place a few days before your surgery but may also be a week or two in advance of it.
It is likely to involve blood and urine tests and you may also have your blood pressure checked. Some women are also given a chest X-ray, an ECG, and heart scan.
Preoperative assessments are also a good opportunity to make sure that you are fully aware of what will happen during your hysterectomy and your immediate recovery while you are still in the hospital.
Hysterectomy Preparation – Diet and Bowel Advice
Follow any advice from your doctor on eating and drinking prior to your hysterectomy. The usual guidelines are not eating or drinking after midnight on the day of your surgery.
As part of the abdominal hysterectomy preparation, you may also need to cleanse your bowels. This can be in the form of an enema, stool softeners and not eating solid foods before your surgery. If your doctor feels this is necessary, they will give you full instructions on what you should do.
Pre Operative Anesthetic
Half an hour before surgery they may give you medicine to help you relax. This is part of the anesthesia. In most cases, you will be given a general anesthetic for your hysterectomy. Sometimes a hysterectomy is performed using epidural or spinal anesthesia. This means that you are awake and do not feel anything from the waist down.
Speak to your doctor about current medications and whether you should carry on with your usual ones in the run-up to your surgery. If you have any existing medical conditions you will have to make sure they have all your medical records.