Orchiectomy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Orchiectomy (say "or-kee-EK-tuh-mee") is surgery to remove one or both testicles. This is mainly done to treat testicular cancer or advanced prostate cancer.

You can expect to feel better each day, although you may have some mild to moderate pain for several days after surgery. You may need pain medicine during this time. Your scrotum will be swollen after surgery. This is normal. The swelling usually goes down within 2 to 4 weeks.

You should be able to do most of your normal activities after 2 to 3 weeks, except for those that require a lot of physical effort. It is important to avoid straining with bowel movements and doing heavy lifting while you are recovering.

If both your testicles were removed, you may start to notice changes in your body several weeks after surgery due to not having male hormones. The most obvious changes may be hot flashes and sweating. You may lose your sex drive, gain weight, or not be able to get an erection. These changes can be upsetting. Talk to your doctor about treatments that might help with these.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Lie down for 15 minutes several times each day for the first 2 weeks after surgery. This will help reduce the swelling of your scrotum.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
  • Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Do not drive for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • You may take showers. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can have sex again.
  • Most men are able to return to work or their normal activities in about 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Incision care

  • In most cases, the doctor will use stitches that dissolve on their own in 1 to 3 weeks and do not need to be removed.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. Cover the area with a gauze bandage until it stops oozing. Change the bandage at least one time a day. Your underwear holds the bandage in place.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

Ice

  • Put ice or a cold pack on your scrotum for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours (when you are awake) for the first 2 or 3 days after surgery. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Other instructions

  • Wear snug briefs or a jockstrap to support your scrotum for the first few weeks after surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe pain in your belly.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain pills.
  • Your incision comes open.
  • You are bleeding from the incision enough to soak a large bandage.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
    • A fever.
  • Your swelling is getting worse.
  • You have trouble passing or cannot pass urine.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: July 26, 2016