Healing times will vary depending on the type of procedure you had (i.e. abdominal, vaginal, or laparoscopic), what was removed (uterus, cervix, ovaries), and your physical fitness entering the surgery. However, everyone needs time to heal both internally and externally. It is important to talk to your surgeon about how soon you can do various activities following surgery.
“It is important to remember that everyone heals at a different pace, so you need to listen to your body to help you make sensible choices. You only get one chance to recover, so take your time and give yourself plenty of time to rest.” - Patient
Remember: there are no hard-and-fast rules around recovery timelines, and each person should monitor their recovery in collaboration with their surgeon.
Below, we discuss the average timelines for recovery, broken down into physical recovery and mental/emotional recovery. The recovery needs in these areas may vary from person to person.
Physical recovery from surgery
Recovery times will vary depending on which type of surgery you had and also your general health.
Abdominal surgery is the most invasive form of surgery. Following abdominal surgery, the following general recommendations can be made:
In the first few weeks, start with light movements, such as walking. Build up any movement gently, and listen to your body - if you feel any pain or discomfort, it is likely you need to rest a bit longer.
For the first 6 weeks, avoid lifting anything heavier than 13 pounds. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot lift something comfortably with one hand, do not lift it-- ask for help.
For laparoscopic procedures, these recovery times will differ.
Download this handy guide for general recovery times for Hysterectomy with Bilateral Oophorectomy performed using the laparoscopic (keyhole) technique.
This document covers a general overview of activities - Listen to your body and speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Depending on the reason for having your surgery, it may take some time and work to come to terms with the surgery and being in surgical menopause. Even for those who have entered surgical menopause for life-saving reasons (e.g., ovarian cancer) sometimes experience a mix of emotions including a sense of loss, anger, and sometimes coming to terms with the loss of fertility.
If you have had years of suffering from a chronic condition like PMDD and had the surgery to gain relief, it is still very common to go through a range of emotions, as well as then having to look back at the trauma caused by living with a chronic condition.
Depending on your personal situation, the timeframe for emotional recovery will vary - and likely, will fluctuate over time. If you find that you are struggling, or feel it would be beneficial, then professional help should be sought. Talking therapy can be very helpful so do ask your doctor for further information.
“I was not sure how I would feel about not having children, and after years of living in pain, I was not sure how to get my head around this new stage of starting again! Therapy was helpful for processing these experiences and emotions.” - Patient
Peer support can also be hugely beneficial and there are a number of support options available:
Visit www.iapmd.org/surgery for lots of evidence-based information and resources for those considering, going through or recovering from surgery for PMDD/PME.