Alisha’s Abdominal Hysterectomy
Age at Surgery 50
I was first diagnosed to have a uterine fibroid 14 years ago. It was 0,5 cm in diameter back then. Six months earlier I had had some menstrual disorder and GP had prescribed progesterone for that. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fibroid appearing, but I suspect that. I also suspect that exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals may have caused the fibroid to grow further.
Six years later the fibroid was 6 cm and doctors first suggested removing it by hysterectomy. I talked to several doctors during the following nine years. I kept asking if I could have other options. They were very uncommunicative. Some said UAE is not an option here where I live. No-one answered when I asked if I could keep the cervix. Some said it’s up to the surgeon. I finally found two doctors who answered at least some of my questions and of course I read a lot. I decided to wait and see. I knew it would be a major surgery and being competitive athlete I didn’t want to go through hysterectomy. Also, I had only minor symptoms and I was closing menopause. This spring I felt nauseous and I was having some trouble emptying the bladder so I finally decided to have hysterectomy, because I was not given any other choice and I didn’t have the money to go anywhere else. The fibroid was 13 cm in diameter.
Surgery itself went fine. I didn’t have any adhesions and it took less than 2 hours to complete. I wanted to meet the surgeon beforehand and asked her what she was planning to remove. I wanted to keep my ovaries and the cervix. She opposed to leaving the cervix. She said she had just gone through the literature concerning removal of the cervix and come to a conclusion that it doesn’t cause any prolapse or vaginal dryness issues. She said she would leave the cervix if that’s what I want, but she strongly was in favour of removing it. I had been given the premedication and I had to decide in that state of mind just before the surgery! I was not prepared. I heard myself saying that I let her (surgeon) decide thinking she will do what she sees is best for me. Now I know that doctors do not necessarily do what is best for a patient, but what is best for the system. I had had hpv over 20 years ago, but normal pap smears ever since so I think it is unlikely I would have got cancer later on. The doctor decided to remove the cervix and the Fallopian tubes. I wanted to keep the ovaries and that’s what she did.
I was given epidural, but it didn’t work. Instead, my right thigh went numb and I had terrible pain when I woke up from anesthesia. Something like I have never felt before. I had four days of painful constipation and I said I wouldn’t leave the hospital before I pooped. It was a relief when I did and I was ready to go home on that evening.
I still had a lot of pain even the first four days had been the worst. I took ibuprofen and paracetamol for another five days and then I stopped using meds regularly. It was very painful to sleep on my sides (especially the right side) or to change position in bed. The tingling pain in lower abdomen and sharp pain in vagina continued over three weeks. After that it has been more occasional or associated with exercising.
I started walking outside on day 5. First it was 20m, next day 200m and the next 1,4 km. After two weeks I was walking 3 km and after three weeks 5-6 km a day. Sometimes I felt sharp pain in vagina during the walks and it scared me. I think I was squeezing my vagina in order to prevent the prolapse to happen. It took several weeks before I let the muscles relax during the walks.
I took the first running steps at week 7. First I ran very short distances in intervals and after one week I ran 2 km continuously, always on soft surfaces. At week 11, I started running on hard surface and after week 12, I felt I had no restrictions in running anymore. Cycling and gentle abs I started at week 8, and racket sports at week 12.
I am still worried about future outcomes of the hysterectomy. I still have tingling pain in lower abdomen e.g. after doing abs so the pain has become chronic. I have odd sensations in vagina and rectum. I don’t know how to describe that, maybe it’s like feeling some pressure. I am definitely not feeling better now than before hysterectomy. That is because I did not have any major symptoms before hysterectomy, but the fibroid was large and weighing almost 1,5 kg so it was better to get rid of it. I would have chosen myomectomy if I had been given the choice. I hadn’t, so I waited nine years and I am satisfied with my decision to wait. I didn’t want to have hysterectomy before the age of 50 and I didn’t want to postpone it much further. I regret removing the cervix even I don’t have any problems – at least not yet. Not sure if it affects the orgasms though. They are not the same as they used to be. No more uterine contractions during the orgasms. The orgasms are good, but not great.
I think the most important thing for me was to know exactly the possible complications of hysterectomy so I read a lot. Most doctors do not give you the answers. They do not necessarily advice what is best for you. I read the book Sex, Lies and the Truth About Uterine Fibroids. I think everyone with uterine fibroids should read it before making any decisions. And of course, I found this forum and it was very helpful in preparing for hysterectomy. If you have an opportunity to choose, hysterectomy should be your last choice. I don’t think that the uterus is there just for childbearing.