Can Kegels Help After a Hysterectomy?

Having a hysterectomy performed is something that millions of women go through every year and the surgery is performed for a variety of reasons. A hysterectomy is the removal of some or all of your female reproductive organs and it is usually not recommended unless all other treatment methods have been exhausted.

Much the same as other life events, hysterectomies can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which is why performing Kegel exercises after this type of surgery is one of the many exercises recommended for an easier recovery. Hysterectomies are usually performed because of endometriosis, pelvic pain, cancer of one of the female organs, and uterine fibroids, among other causes. The surgery eliminates these and many other problems and enables you to get back to a normal life quickly.

A hysterectomy, however, is more than just an operation. Many women experience numerous physical and emotional challenges after their hysterectomies so it is good to know that there are exercises and other activities that can help with both sides of this often-complex surgical procedure.

Kegel exercises, however, are great because they are all-natural, very simple to do, completely painless, and effective in two to 12 weeks, depending on the woman. Although a hysterectomy is usually not simple, Kegel exercises are and once you discover their many benefits, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t been doing them all along.

What Is a Hysterectomy?

When it comes to a hysterectomy, there are three main types, and only your doctor can make the right recommendation for you. These can be described as follows:

  • A partial hysterectomy is the removal of the upper part of the uterus but the cervix is left in place.

  • A total hysterectomy is the removal of the entire uterus and the cervix.

  • A radical hysterectomy is one whereby nearly everything is removed including the uterus, the tissue on the sides of the uterus, the upper part of the vagina, and the cervix. This type of hysterectomy, however, is normally reserved only for cancer patients.

As with other surgeries, the type chosen for you depends on your specific situation because everyone’s medical condition is different. If you’re considering having a hysterectomy, it behooves you to work closely with your doctor in order to make the best decision in the end because this is the only way to make sure that you choose the right surgery for your needs. Hysterectomies are also conducted in several different ways; again, your doctor will make the recommendation that is best for you. These methods include the following:

  • Abdominal: this is the type of hysterectomy that most people end up having. It is conducted by making an incision in the abdomen and removing the organs from there. Typically, the patient will stay in the hospital for several days and take approximately six to eight weeks to recover.

  • Abdominal: this is the type of hysterectomy that most people end up having. It is conducted by making an incision in the abdomen and removing the organs from there. Typically, the patient will stay in the hospital for several days and take approximately six to eight weeks to recover.

  • Laparoscopic: this type of hysterectomy is the least-invasive type and involves only minute incisions for removal of the organs. The patient can recover from this type of hysterectomy in six days to two weeks.

There is also a new technique that involves performing the hysterectomy via a robotic device but these are not very common so far and aren’t performed on most women seeking hysterectomies.

As with other types of surgeries, getting back into shape is an important part of your recovery. Depending on your own surgery, you can begin mild exercises within days or weeks of your hysterectomy. Of course, you need to pay attention to everything your doctor recommends because recovery should be taken one small step at a time.

Exercises that are specifically designed to strengthen your stomach and pelvic muscles are especially useful; among the exercises usually recommended are pelvic tilts, Kegel exercises, basic stretching, and other stomach and abdominal exercises that strengthen the muscles in these parts of your body. High-impact activities such as running and intense exercises such as sit-ups are generally not recommended because these activities can actually do more damage than good if you’ve just had a hysterectomy.

Can Kegels Help After a Hysterectomy?

Kegels help after a hysterectomy because they strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which tend to loosen up with age and with certain surgeries, including a hysterectomy. Kegel exercises are not difficult to do; in fact, many people are surprised at how simple they are, especially when you consider how effective they are.

Kegel exercises are performed with a gentle squeeze-and-release motion but first you have to make sure that you find the right muscles to exercise. This is done quickly if you picture the muscles that are used when you stop urinating in mid-stream. The muscles tend to get loose and weak with certain conditions, including one or more childbirths and certain surgeries as well as obesity and being out of shape.

There are many different ways to perform Kegel exercises. In fact, nearly every article you read seems to recommend something different but the good news is that as long as you’re doing your Kegels correctly and consistently, the rest doesn’t matter. Most women start off with squeezing the correct muscles for roughly five seconds, then releasing for five seconds.

You can do five of these to start out with, then build up to increasing the hold amount to 10 seconds with a 10-second release. Finally, work your way up to three sets of 10 exercises and perform these once a day. The longer you perform your Kegel exercises, the stronger your pelvic floor muscles will become.

Even after your muscles get to where you want them to be, you should continue to do them daily in order to keep the muscles strong. In fact, millions of women all over the world consider doing their Kegel exercises a very important part of their daily routines because that’s how effective these exercises are.

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Major Benefits of Kegel Exercises After Your Hysterectomy

There are numerous benefits to performing Kegel exercises after a hysterectomy. First, stress incontinence, both urinary and fecal, is a big problem for many women who have had this surgery and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is the best way to counteract that naturally. After all, most women who suffer with incontinence would prefer not to take chemical-filled prescription medications and Kegel exercises offer you a way to develop and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles without doing that. Best of all, the problem of incontinence can be eased or eliminated fairly quickly after starting these exercises, usually within two months or so for most women.

Second, Kegel exercises can decrease the likelihood of getting organ prolapse, which can sometimes happen after a hysterectomy. Prolapse is when internal organs such as your uterus, bladder, or other pelvic organs move out of their original position. One option when this happens is to have surgery performed but practicing your Kegel exercises regularly can also prevent prolapse from happening in the first place. The stronger the pelvic floor muscles are, the more muscle tissue there is to hold the organs in their original place, which means that organ prolapse is a lot less likely when you practice your Kegel exercises on a regular basis.

Finally, since many women suffer with a lack of sexual desire after they’ve had hysterectomies, even partial hysterectomies, Kegels are the perfect remedy to this problem. Regular Kegel exercises are proven to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and one of the many benefits of stronger pelvic muscles is increased frequency and intensity of your orgasms. Especially for older women who are having hysterectomies -- women who have likely gone through multiple childbirths and even other types of abdominal surgeries -- lack of sexual desire can be a severe problem. It is natural for women in these situations to show some concern about this negative aspect in their lives but regular Kegel exercises can put an end to that before you know it.

Any type of major surgery is going to bring with it a host of physical and emotional changes but the surgeries affecting the female organs can be even worse. For many women, there is a psychological aspect to knowing that they can never again bear a child but when you add to that the very real physical changes that they are also experiencing, it is easy to understand why things such as Kegel exercises can be so valuable. These exercises help with both the physical and emotional sides to having this kind of surgery, allowing for a more complete recovery afterwards.

Speeding up Your Recovery After a Hysterectomy

In addition to Kegel exercises, there are numerous other ways to speed up your recovery after you go through a hysterectomy. Remember that you should always start out slowly because your muscles have been through a lot. The first thing that you should keep in mind is to never do anything without an approval from your doctor because this is the best way to ensure that you are doing what you need to do at the appropriate speed. There are other things that you can do as well and these include the following:

  • Get up and walk around whenever you can. Don’t act as though you’re eager to run a marathon; simply get up and walk from room to room whenever you can. Slowly. It’ll help you recuperate more quickly both physically and emotionally.

  • Eat a healthy diet so that you can get back on your feet a lot sooner. This includes foods rich in Vitamin C, such as fruit; vitamins B12 and iron, such as eggs and fish; and a lot of protein, including meat and poultry. Protein builds muscle and this is one thing that you need right after surgery.

  • Don’t get too much sun. A little time outside in the fresh air is perfectly all right but don’t spend all day in the sun. Too much sun can actually weaken your immune system and this is one system that you’re going to need for the next few weeks while you recuperate.

  • Don’t forget to take your vitamins. Vitamins and minerals are important to consume as your body heals so taking a good multivitamin supplement every day will go a long way in your recovery efforts.

  • Try to cough whenever you can. This is good for the lungs, which can take a beating during surgery because of the anesthesia that is used. The fluid is removed from your lungs whenever you cough so coughing often is always recommended after surgery.

  • Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol is rarely good for you but when your body is trying to recover from major surgery, it can actually make you dehydrated and this is something that you won’t want during your recovery phase.

  • Don’t bathe or go swimming for at least two weeks after your surgery. This is mainly because of the damage it might do to your incision. While it is good to keep your incision area moist and clean, soaking in water isn’t the way to do it. For that, you should simply use lotion or cream and rub it into the scar daily; wait until you get the okay from your physician before taking a bath or going swimming.

Kegel exercises are true lifesavers when your pelvic floor muscles are so weak that you leak urine every time you sneeze or cough or you can’t achieve sexual satisfaction in the bedroom. When you’ve experienced a complex abdominal surgery such as a hysterectomy, it can directly affect the condition of your pelvic floor muscles and these Kegels can work wonders in getting those muscles back in great shape.

If you have a hysterectomy of any type planned, it is a good idea to do your Kegel exercises before the surgery because the better shape you’re in beforehand, the easier and faster it will be to get in shape after the surgery is complete. As with many other surgeries, getting into shape physically can help you recuperate emotionally as well, which is just one of the many reasons to do your Kegels both before and after your hysterectomy is scheduled.

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