A hysterectomy involves a surgical procedure removing the womb (uterus) and it is actually the most common non-obstetrical procedures for women within the United States. Around 300 of each 100,000 women will have a hysterectomy and there are various reasons. Some of these reasons include uterine fibroids, abnormal vaginal or uterine bleeding, precancerous cervical conditions known as cervical dysplasia, endometriosis, or uterine prolapse such as pelvic relaxation. Most hysterectomies are without complications, but sometimes women will experience ovary pain after hysterectomy or those experience hot flashes after hysterectomy still have ovaries.
Ovarian Pain After Hysterectomy, Why?
Many women experience ovarian pain after hysterectomy and wonder why. Now let's find out the reason.
1. Scar from the Surgery
Around 2% to 3% women experience ovarian pain after hysterectomy or some other form of pain. Sometimes this pain is caused by scar tissue, which is a standard formation that occurs when healing from the surgery. If the scar involves at least one ovary, the pain may occur in cycles that are similar to menstrual pains before a hysterectomy. Pain during intercourse may also occur when the pain is due to the surgical scar.
2. Pain from the Nerve
Another possible cause of ovarian pain after hysterectomy is due to neuropathic pain, which comes from nerve endings that send pain signals even though they shouldn’t. Touching the tissue in this area using a gentle cotton-tipped applicator may cause pain, but most of the time this pain doesn’t include obvious tissue damage, lumps or anything abnormal.
This kind of pain can be treated by reducing the responsible abnormal nerve signals. Options include medications, injections, and local anesthetics. In some cases, surgical revision near the top of the vagina may be necessary.
3. Bladder Spasm
Bladder spasms may also occur following a hysterectomy and they will usually improve gradually during the first few weeks after the surgery. They don’t indicate a problem unless you experience burning or changes to urgency or frequency of urination. You can take over-the-counter medications if you find the discomfort bothersome or ask your doctor for a temporary prescription.
4. Tumor After Surgery—A Story of Others
"I had a tubal/ovariectomy (partial) and then a few years after, began experience pain in the left side as well as lower abdominal sensitivity. I visited many doctors over 8 years, but none noticed anything until I visited a female gynecologist. She didn’t notice anything, but had me do a sonogram and exploratory surgery. She discovered a large tumor and adhesions from the ovariectomy that the other doctors hadn’t noticed. These tumors have a very high risk of being cancerous."
5. Menstrual Cramping
If you have a hysterectomy but leave the ovaries in place, they will continue to produce the same hormones they do throughout the menstrual cycle. This means that you may experience pain that is nearly identical to that you had when you still menstruated. It may lead to cramping and there is a small chance that tiny cysts can form during the process of the menstrual cycle because you don’t get the cycle.
What Other Symptoms Would You Experience After a Hysterectomy?
There are different types of hysterectomies: a total abdominal hysterectomy (the uterus and cervix are removed), vaginal hysterectomy (the uterus is removed through the vagina) and each of these can be done with or without a laparoscope. There is also a supracervical hysterectomy (the uterus is removed but not the cervix). The symptoms can vary based on the type of surgery you have.
- Having a hysterectomy relieves you of symptoms that caused it and that can lead to a better sex life.
- Women who have not had menopause before their hysterectomy will most likely begin having menopause symptoms, such as mood swings and hot flashes as the body adjusts to the hormonal level changes.
- It is also possible to have changes in sexual enjoyment or desire and vaginal dryness.
- It is possible to feel a loss and grief over losing the uterus and ability to bear children. Depression is also possible in cases of surgery due to cancer or illness.
- Because these changes may be drastic, many women start hormone replacement therapy prior to being released from the hospital. Besides, feeling depressed or sad is normal, but you should talk to your mental health therapist and doctor.
When to See a Doctor
There is a small chance of developing issues such as severe infection, bowel blockage, bleeding after surgery, blood clots, urinary tract injury, or issues related to anesthesia. Contact your doctor if you have:
- Increasing drainage, swelling, or redness from the incision
- Increasing pain
- Difficulty urinating, frequent urination, burning during urination
- Severe vomiting or nausea
- Fever over 100°
- Bright red vaginal bleeding
Ovarian Pain After Hysterectomy: How to Speed Up Recovery
To minimize ovarian pain after hysterectomy, you want to give yourself around 6 weeks of recovery and pay attention to these points.
- Mind constipation: Constipation after a hysterectomy can be very uncomfortable and should be prevented. You should stay hydrated and if you feel constipated ask your doctor and then use a stool softener.
- Return to the office: Listen to your body to see when you can go back to work. If there is no heavy lifting or manual labor involved, you may be able to go back in 4to8 weeks.
- Drive with care: Only drive if you can comfortably wear a seatbelt and safely stop in an emergency. You may have to wait 3 to 8 weeks and should always talk to your doctor before driving again.
- Do proper exercise: Your hospital will offer exercise recommendations. Walking and swimming is okay after the wounds heal. Avoid doing too much as you will be tired. Only lift light objects (and only when necessary) and do so with your back straight and knees bent. Doing this can reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs.
- Sex after surgery: You should not have sex until you feel relaxed and comfortable and no longer have vaginal discharge. There may be some vaginal dryness or a loss of libido at first, but this should improve once you are recovered. In fact, libido and orgasm strength will improve after your hysterectomy. Wait 6 weeks before resuming your normal sexual activity. Still use condoms to prevent STIs.