Hysterectomy recovery timeline and tips

The time it takes to fully recover from a hysterectomy varies according to your age, general health and the type of hysterectomy you have. 

How long does it take to recover from a hysterectomy?

Immediately after your hysterectomy, you will spend several days recovering in hospital. When you go home, you will need to continue your recovery and may not be able to return to all of your usual activities until up to eight weeks later, depending on which type of hysterectomy you have.

Abdominal hysterectomy recovery time

You will likely spend two to three days in hospital. You will then need to spend another six to eight weeks recovering at home before you can return to all of your usual activities, which includes having sex. 

Your doctor will advise you on which activities to avoid during your recovery, such as housework. You should not do any lifting for the first two weeks after your procedure. However, it is important to stay active through light exercise, such as walking every day. 

Vaginal or laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy recovery time

A vaginal or laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy is less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy. You will likely be able to return home on the same day as your procedure or the next day. You may be able to return to almost all of your usual activities in as little as two weeks, however, you should avoid sex for at least six weeks. 

During your recovery you should avoid heavy lifting but remain active by walking every day. 

Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH) recovery time

A laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy is the least invasive type of hysterectomy. You will likely be able to return home on the same day as your procedure or the next day. You should be fully recovered between six days to two weeks after your procedure.

During your recovery you should avoid heavy lifting but remain active by walking every day.

What to expect after a hysterectomy: recovery timeline

As with any surgery, there are risks and after a hysterectomy, you may experience temporary side effects, including:

  • Bladder problems
  • Bowel problems
  • Emotional effects eg low mood or depression — this will depend on how your body responds to any hormonal changes as well as your personal feelings towards fertility
  • Symptoms of menopause if your ovaries were removed eg vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats
  • Vaginal discharge

Immediately after surgery

After your hysterectomy, you will likely wake up feeling drowsy, tired and/or nauseous for several hours due to the effects of the anaesthesia wearing off. You may also be in some pain or discomfort, and feel as if you need to open your bowels.

Your healthcare team will closely monitor you as you recover by checking your pain levels, blood pressure and other factors. If you are in pain, speak to your nurse and they can give you painkillers. If you are feeling nauseous, a common side effect of anaesthesia, they can also give you medication to ease this sensation. 

You will have a dressing placed over your wound and a small tube (catheter) placed into your urethra to drain urine from your bladder into a bag. You may also have a drip placed into a vein in your arm to deliver fluids and medication. 

If you have an abdominal hysterectomy, you will have a drainage tube placed in your abdomen to drain blood from underneath your wound into a bag. This tube will be removed by your healthcare team one to two days later. 

If you have a vaginal hysterectomy, you will have a wad of gauze inserted into your vagina to reduce the risk of bleeding. This will be removed by your healthcare team after 24 hours. 

If you have stitches in your vagina, these will dissolve on their own, so you will not need to have these removed. 

The day after your hysterectomy

Your healthcare team will encourage you to go for a short walk to help your blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots in your legs (deep vein thrombosis).

In the first few weeks

Common side effects of a hysterectomy in the first few weeks after your procedure include: 

  • Bloating and/or constipation — this is because your bowel will be working more slowly as you recover
  • Mild pain and discomfort in your lower belly
  • Light vaginal bleeding that comes and goes, and lessens over time

Going home

If you have a vaginal hysterectomy or a laparoscopic hysterectomy, you may go home on the same day as your procedure or the day after. If there are any medical concerns or complications, you may stay in hospital for another one to two days. Even though a vaginal hysterectomy is less invasive than an abdominal hysterectomy, you will still need to spend several weeks resting and recovering at home.

If you have an abdominal hysterectomy, you will likely go home after two to three days but may need to spend longer in hospital if there are any complications or medical concerns.

Whichever type of hysterectomy you have, make sure you follow your doctor’s advice on which activities to avoid and how to take care of your wound.

Returning to work

When you can return to work will depend on how you are feeling, the type of work you do and the type of hysterectomy you have.

In general, if your work doesn’t involve any manual labour, you will likely be able to return after four to eight weeks. However, some women may be ready to return to work after two to three weeks, with their doctor’s approval.

Driving after a hysterectomy

You won’t be ready to drive until two to three weeks after your hysterectomy or until you can: 

  • Comfortably use all of the controls in your car
  • Safely perform an emergency stop
  • Sit comfortably in your car, wearing a seat belt
  • Stop taking any painkillers or other medication for your recovery which cause drowsiness
  • Twist and turn your body in your car to see in all directions

How soon can you exercise after a hysterectomy?

It is important to stay active after your hysterectomy through light exercise, such as walking. This will help get your bowels moving so they will function normally, improve your blood flow to reduce your chances of developing a blood clot and increase your energy levels.

However, you should not overdo it with your exercise. Start with a short walk and gradually increase the duration every day to build up your stamina.

If you usually follow a workout routine and gradually increase your exercise during your recovery, you should be able to return to your usual workout in around four to six weeks. However, you should still speak to your doctor before you perform any strenuous exercise, such as contact sports, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or weightlifting.

Sex

You should avoid having sex until your wound has fully healed and your vaginal discharge has completely stopped. This usually takes four to six weeks. If you then feel comfortable to have sex, it is safe to do so. However, you may experience some vaginal dryness if your ovaries were removed and you are not on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

It is normal to experience an initial loss of interest in sex after a hysterectomy. However, your sex drive will usually return once you are fully recovered. You may find that you enjoy sex more due to reduced pain from any condition you had before which was treated by having a hysterectomy.

Contraception

After your hysterectomy, you will not be able to become pregnant again, so you will not need to use contraception to prevent pregnancy. However, you should still use condoms if you are having sex with a man to prevent yourself from catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Emotional recovery

In some women, there are emotional consequences to having a hysterectomy, which can depend on any hormonal changes and feelings about fertility. A hysterectomy removes your womb and prevents you from becoming pregnant, which can lead to a feeling of loss and grief. You may also feel depressed, particularly if your hysterectomy was performed to treat cancer.

It is normal to go through emotional changes after a hysterectomy and it is important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to help you cope with these emotions.

What not to do after a hysterectomy

After your hysterectomy, make sure you avoid

  • Heavy lifting for six weeks — this includes moving furniture, lifting heavy boxes or picking up children
  • Inserting anything into your vagina for four to six weeks — this includes inserting tampons, douching and having vaginal sex
  • Strenuous activities for six weeks eg housework, lawn mowing, strenuous exercise
  • Swimming until your vaginal stitches have completely dissolved — your doctor or nurse will need to confirm this

Hysterectomy recovery tips

You will need to rest a lot after your hysterectomy. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night and if you are feeling especially tired, sleep for longer at night and/or take a short nap during the day.

Make sure you follow a healthy, balanced diet to aid your recovery and increase your energy levels. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. 

It is also important to eat high-fibre foods to reduce the risk or severity of constipation as your bowel will be working more slowly after a hysterectomy and certain painkillers can increase your risk of constipation. If a high-fibre diet isn’t enough to prevent constipation, drink more water and talk to your doctor about taking a laxative for a short period of time. 

If you are a smoker, avoid smoking during your recovery as it slows down your body’s ability to heal and recover. 

Finally, make sure you attend all of your follow-up appointments. During these appointments your doctor will check on your recovery and you can discuss any concerns you have. 

A selection of foods to make a balanced diet

Life after recovering from a hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is only performed when all other treatments have been unsuccessful and is usually effective in relieving symptoms such as abdominal bloating, heavy vaginal bleeding and pelvic pain. Without these symptoms, you may find you enjoy sex more. 

You will no longer have periods, so will not need to use sanitary products. 

If your cervix was removed during your hysterectomy and your procedure was not used to treat cancer, then you won’t need to attend cervical screenings. However, you should speak to your doctor to confirm this. 

If both of your ovaries were removed during your hysterectomy, you will go through surgical menopause, with symptoms such as mood swings, vaginal dryness, hot flushes, night sweats, pain during sex and decreased sex drive. 

There are many treatments available to relieve menopause symptoms, including HRT, so make sure you speak to your doctor. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause may also mean that you need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements. 

Hysterectomy recovery FAQs

How long does the discharge last after a hysterectomy?

Vaginal discharge after a hysterectomy can last for up to six weeks, lessening over time. 

How long before I can fly after a hysterectomy?

Depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, it can take up to eight weeks before you are fully recovered, so you may not feel comfortable flying during this time. However, if you do feel comfortable flying after your hysterectomy, you should still seek advice from your doctor. In general, it is recommended to avoid flying for up to 10 days after any major abdominal surgery. 

What exercises should you do after a hysterectomy?

After a hysterectomy, you should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. However, it is important to stay active with light exercise to improve your blood flow, which reduces the risk of blood clots, and helps get your bowel moving to prevent constipation. Try walking every day, gradually increasing how long you walk for. 

How long do you have to be on bed rest after a hysterectomy?

The day after your hysterectomy, your healthcare team will encourage you to go for a short walk to improve your blood flow and get your bowel moving. You should not therefore stay confined to your bed during your recovery. However, you should also not take part in any strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or housework. 

What happens to your body after a hysterectomy?

After a hysterectomy, your body will start to heal, which can take up to eight weeks. Your bowel will temporarily slow down and if you had your ovaries removed, you will go through significant hormonal changes called surgical menopause. You may experience light vaginal bleeding for up to six weeks, as well as some discomfort or pain that can be relieved with over-the-counter painkillers. 

How long does it take to heal internally after a hysterectomy?

Depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, it can take between two to eight weeks to fully recover. Abdominal hysterectomies are more invasive and take longer to recover from, while laparoscopic and vaginal hysterectomies offer a faster recovery time. 

How long does pain last after a hysterectomy?

You may experience some pain or discomfort for up to eight weeks, depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, which affects the length of your recovery. However, the pain is usually manageable with over-the-counter painkillers and should lessen over time. If your pain is not relieved with over-the-counter painkillers or is getting worse, see your doctor urgently. 

Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.


The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences.Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing.He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.