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Uterine Cancer Surgery hysterectomy recovery

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Updated December 04, 2003

Uterine Cancer Surgery: Hysterectomy

After a hysterectomy, women usually have some pain and general fatigue. In some cases, patients may have nausea and vomiting following surgery, and some women may have problems returning to normal bladder and bowel function. The effects of anesthesia and discomfort may also temporarily limit physical activity. Diet is usually restricted to liquids at first and gradually increases to regular meals. The length of the hospital stay may vary from several days to a week.

Women who have had a hysterectomy no longer have menstrual periods. When the ovaries are removed, menopause occurs immediately. Hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause caused by surgery may be more severe than those caused by natural menopause. In the general population, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is often prescribed to relieve these problems. However, ERT is not commonly used for women who have had endometrial cancer. Because estrogen has been linked to the development of uterine cancer (see Possible Causes and Prevention), many doctors are concerned that ERT may cause uterine cancer to recur. Other doctors point out that there is no scientific evidence that ERT increases the risk of recurrence. A large research study is being conducted to determine whether women who have had early stage endometrial cancer can safely take estrogen.

After surgery, normal activities usually can be resumed in 4 to 8 weeks. Sexual desire and sexual intercourse are not usually affected by hysterectomy. However, some women may experience feelings of loss that may make intimacy difficult. Counseling or support for both the patient and her partner may be helpful.

Reprinted from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

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