Hysterectomy - abdominal - discharge

While you were in the hospital, you had a hysterectomy, surgery to remove your uterus. Your surgeon made a 5- to 7- inch incision (cut) in the lower part of your belly. The cut was made either up and down or across your belly, just above your pubic hair (a bikini cut). Part or all of your uterus was removed.

You may have also had:

  • Your fallopian tubes or ovaries removed
  • More tissue, including part of your vagina, removed if you have cancer
  • Lymph nodes removed

You probably spent 2 to 5 days in the hospital after surgery.

What to Expect at Home

It will take at least 4 to 6 weeks to feel better. You will probably get tired easily during this time. You may not feel like eating much.

After your wound heals, you will have a 4- to 6-inch scar.

If you had good sexual function before the surgery, you should continue to have good sexual function afterward. If you had problems with severe bleeding before your hysterectomy, sexual function often improves after surgery. If you have a decrease in your sexual function after your hysterectomy, talk with your health care provider about possible causes and treatments.


Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. Do NOT drive yourself home.

You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 to 8 weeks. Before then:

  • Do not lift anything heavier than a gallon jug of milk. If you have children, do not lift them.
  • Short walks are okay. Light housework is okay. Slowly increase how much you do.
  • Ask your doctor when you can go up and down stairs. It will depend on the type of incision you had.
  • Avoid all strenuous activity until you have checked with your doctor. This includes heavy housecleaning, jogging or other exercise, weightlifting, and other activities that make you breathe hard or strain. Do not do sit-ups.
  • Do not drive a car for 3 weeks. It’s okay to ride in a car, but make sure you wear your seat belt. Do NOT drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine.

Do not have sexual intercourse until you have had your checkup with your doctor after surgery.

  • Ask your doctor when you will be healed enough to resume normal sexual activity. Usually, it takes at least 8 weeks. With some types of hysterectomy, it may be longer.
  • Do not put anything into your vagina for 6 weeks after your surgery. This includes douching and using tampons

To manage your pain:

  • Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines to use at home.
  • If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, try taking them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They may be more effective this way.
  • Try getting up and moving around if you are having some pain in your belly. This may ease your pain.
  • Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.
  • In the first couple of days an ice pack may help to relieve some of your incisional pain.

Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering.

See also:

Wound Care

Change the dressing over your incision once a day, or sooner if it gets dirty or wet.

  • Your doctor will tell you when you do not need to keep your wound covered.
  • Keep the wound area clean by washing it with mild soap and water. See also: Surgical wound care

You may remove your wound dressings (bandages) and take showers if sutures (stitches), staples, or glue were used to close your skin. Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub, or go swimming, until your doctor tells you it is okay.

If tape strips (Steri-Strips) were used to close your incision, cover them with plastic wrap before showering for the first week. Do not try to wash off the Steri-Strips or glue. They should fall off in about a week. If they are still there after 10 days, you can remove them, unless your doctor tells you not to.

Other Self-care

Try eating smaller meals than normal and have healthy snacks in between. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink 8 cups of water a day to keep from getting constipated. See also: Constipation - self-care

If your ovaries were removed, talk with your doctor about treatment for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if:

  • You have a fever above 100.5 °F
  • Your surgical wound is bleeding, red and warm to touch, or has thick, yellow, or green drainage.
  • Your pain medicine is not helping your pain.
  • It is hard to breathe.
  • You have a cough that does not go away.
  • You cannot drink or eat.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • You are unable to pass gas or have a bowel movement.
  • You have pain or burning when you urinate, or you are unable to urinate.
  • You have a discharge from your vagina that has a bad odor.
  • You have bleeding from your vagina that is heavier than light spotting.
  • You have swelling or redness in one of your legs.

Alternate Names

Abdominal hysterectomy - discharge; Supracervical hysterectomy - discharge; Radical hysterectomy - discharge; Removal of the uterus - discharge


American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Special procedures: Hysterectomy. March 2006. Accessed February 18, 2009.

Entman SS, Graves CR, Jarnagin BK, Rao GG. Gynecologic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 75.

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (Canada). Supracervical hysterectomy. SOGC CLINICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINE No 238, Janurary 2010.

Update Date: 2/28/2011

Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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