My Journey to Hysterectomy & Pelvic Health (Part 5: Recovery Reality)

Dec 23, 2022


Welcome to the more intimate part of the blog! (also known as the part where we get into the detail of gynae recovery!)

Little pre warning that within this episode, I will go into some detail about my personal experiences which you may not want to read so please proceed with caution. 

For those of you following this blog…apologies for the long wait between this part and the previous part four. I have had a few health challenges to address as a result of the surgery which have been quite time consuming and very annoying to be honest!

If you’ve ended up reading this blog before reading Parts One, Two, Three and Four then you have no idea what I’m talking about so feel free to hop over to the first blog HERE

As always, all my comments and experiences are exactly that! My Individual Experiences;

so they are not going to apply to everyone.

(Any operation is going to affect an individual slightly differently so my comments are not meant to confirm or deny risks or reactions)

The First Hours After Surgery

OH! before I forget… I was amused prior to surgery, to be told I needed to take a pregnancy test. I totally understand the reasoning for asking this of many hysterectomy patients but even when I told them I was a long time post menopausal AND had been sterilised in the 90’s (tubes tied), they still told me it was necessary. When I explained my situation more clearly to the nursing assistant, she was happy for me to sign a disclaimer instead.

If I had been pregnant it would have been a medical miracle based on the above but I understand their caution of course. 

At the end of part four of this blog,  you left me hooked up to lots of tubes (see “back in my room” in part 4 of the blog series) and it’s been a few weeks since then so I’m ready for you to move to the next stage of my recovery now)

When hubby left for the evening, I was still pretty groggy and not very impressed to have my evening meal placed in front of me. I think if the timings of my operation had been as planned (starting and finishing as planned), then I may have been up for a hearty meal, but an hour after the op I was not up for a gourmet mix of fish and vegetables. (ugh!)

Having said that it wasn’t hugely necessary, and fluids were more important, so no major issue.

Anyhoo… on with the tale…

That night I was in a moderate amount of pain, (see rubbish picture above!), but mostly just like a bad period pain. This seemed odd as I didn’t have a uterus! In my case I had a lot of intravenous painkillers but was also in charge of a little button to top myself up every 10 minutes if necessary. Luckily the machine stops you topping up too much, or too often, otherwise I feel I may have done myself some harm!

I asked about the pain later and was told this was likely due to the large amount of ‘vaginal packing’ to stem any bleeding (like putting pressure on a cut) as this would put pressure on the posterior wall stitches (the bowel fix) and the top of the vagina where the cervix had been removed leaving me with a ‘cuff’ or ‘vault’ where everything is sealed off (sounds so sexy and alluring doesn’t it!)

So… as mentioned in part 4, hubby had left that night as I was hooked up to:

Pain killers


A blood pressure machine

A catheter

and both legs had inflating cuffs on them to periodically squeeze my lower legs to further help stop any blood clotting 

As a result of the above processes, I had virtually no sleep that first night but actually felt ok and the pain was nagging but not bad. Just annoying.

The next morning at I think 7am I was given more oral pain killers and breakfast which I forced down because I have always taken the approach that I will do everything I need to to get better and eating is one of those things (I was NOT hungry!)

By the way…weeks prior to the operation I had started taking vitamin C and zinc which are excellent for their healing properties and 3 months on I am just about to stop the Zinc as (spoiler alert!) I am healed now.

Anyhoo…fast forward to 1pm the day after my surgery (17 hours or so) and my husband came to see me but my room was empty.

I was by then, with the physio in my own clothes, walking around the ward, not hooked up to any wires at all! (see the below pic of me sitting down for a rest)

Poor hubby wondered whether I had expired in the night as last time he saw me I was not looking quite so bouncy so he was very surprised to see me up and about! (bless him)

The Yucky Bits!

I know you want to know the details of the recovery so here’s some info on that for you…

Vaginal Packing:

I mentioned earlier that the pain I felt in my uterus area was very period like and I was told that the pressure of the packing was the cause, so it was a relief to be told that this was coming out at around 11am the day after surgery.

It was quick to remove but good lord there’s a lot of it! Who knew I had so much space inside there?!

It was pretty low as far as pain levels go and the process is to breathe in just before the nurse starts to extract it (which she does in stages) and to breathe out as she extracts. It was just a bit uncomfortable and felt very odd but it went on FOREVER! (LOL)

I didn’t ask for the measurement but it felt like about 20 feet of gauze came out!

When it was out it was so much better and the pain stopped almost immediately. (phew)


Bleeding wasn’t an issue for me but this obviously varies. I had expected more with my surgery but it was minimal.


My next challenge was going to be pooping! After having the bowel prolapse fix, my bowels were running scared!

I knew the team wouldn’t let me leave until I had pooped so it was key to eat what I was given and to move about as much as possible.

I also tried to limit my oral pain killers at this stage as the Ibuprofen was not helping with the constipation. I was quite forceful on this matter as, although the clinical team were rightly concerned that I should have adequate pain relief to ensure my blood pressure remained stable and that I felt well, I needed to have a good balance, which for me, did not include so many pain killers. (the below image isn’t me!)

My main challenge at this stage was definitely pooping! I was peeing perfectly fine (go me!) and actually felt amazing


Beware post surgery euphoria which can make you think all is well and you don’t need to rest….YOU DO!

If you have ever had a bowel prolapse (and many of my clients have one right now) you may have had to push on the the posterior (back) vaginal wall to even get a poop to come out! This is very life impacting and it also often means (as with me) that when you need to go…you have to go very very soon. It’s almost like the safety mechanism has broken in your bum.

I have no shame in sharing this and you should not have any either. 

So my poop had to comply. There was no way I was going to be pooping any other way that the normal way so this was a battle of wills.

I will say that even 3 months on I am still adjusting but it’s important to drink lots of water, eat lots of fibre and not to strain (particularly with those stitches to consider!)

The hospital gave me Movicol (a type of laxative), which made me feel sick. I prefer senna products and they worked well but it’s a slow process and a lot is mindset oriented after years of fear over pooping.

At this stage and just prior to going home (after 3 days) I had spoken with my surgeon who mentioned my ‘cyst’ being large and having to send it to pathology. I feel this is a good place to stop for now as that is a whole new chapter so do hop in to part six in a few weeks time, where I will outline the outcome of my ovarian ‘cyst’ that wasn’t a cyst and how I adapted to recovery at home.

Jane Pangbourne is Founder of Menopausal Not Mad and dedicates her time to HRT research & education.

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