Complete Pelvic Rest after Hysterectomy

Surgeons often recommend rest and restricted activities to their patients after hysterectomy. The reason for your post op restrictions is to promote healing and decrease surgical complications. Since gynecologic surgery takes place in the pelvic region, some surgeons will also order either “pelvic rest” or “complete pelvic rest”.

Pelvic rest is a term used by gynecologists to indicate that a woman is to abstain from sexual intercourse, both vaginal and anal. While there is no concrete definition of complete pelvic rest, the term itself implies no sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. These may include oral sex, anal sex, outercourse, orgasm, and possibly even arousal. Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises could be restricted as well.

Complete pelvic rest may be more commonly ordered for women who have had a total hysterectomy (uterus and cervix removed) because there are stitches at the vaginal cuff that take time and proper rest to heal. Women who have had repairs with their hysterectomy (for example A&P repairs or bladder sling) may also find themselves on complete pelvic rest after their surgery. Intercourse, orgasms, and even arousal can stress the pelvic area and cause complications including tearing the stitches at the vaginal cuff, damaging repairs, and introducing bacteria to the healing area. For some women, even orgasms can strain vaginal, pelvic, and abdominal tissues that are healing. The ramifications of this may be either short or long term and can include additional surgery, infection, bleeding, pain, adhesions, and scar tissue.

Since there is no concrete definition, complete pelvic rest may mean different things to different doctors and their patients. If your doctor orders complete pelvic rest, be sure to clarify your restrictions by asking very pointed questions. It is important to be sure you understand what is and what is not safe for you to do as you heal.

Depending on the terms your doctor uses, it can be easy to misunderstand and think an activity is acceptable, when the surgeon believes she’s indicated it’s not. An example of this may be a patient who hears pelvic rest but continues to engage in external stimulation and oral sex. This might be fine for some patients but not necessarily for all. This is why it’s important to clarify with your own doctor.

Some women experience a libido surge post op, so the waiting for doctor’s clearance can be very difficult and frustrating. You may miss the intimacy with your partner and feel a need to connect. You may also be feeling some anxiety about how sex post hysterectomy will feel and want to find out what it’s like.

During recovery and complete pelvic rest, there are still ways to maintain intimacy and closeness with your partner. Explore other ways of maintaining closeness by cuddling, massage, thoughtful notes, holding hands, long talks, dinner alone, or plan a romantic getaway for after you’re cleared. Sharing intimacy with your partner promotes well being and can be beneficial to recovery. You may find you sleep better and feel happier, too.

Please ensure you receive your doctor’s clearance before engaging in any sexual activity. She is the only one that can know for certain that you are healed well enough to safely engage in sexual activity.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Read this article: Complete Pelvic Rest after Hysterectomy


Recommended Posts