Pelvic Prolapse: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a week or two. You may need about 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover from open surgery and 1 to 2 weeks to recover from laparoscopic surgery or vaginal surgery.

It is important to avoid heavy lifting while you are recovering, so that your incision can heal.

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.
  • Try to walk each day. Start out 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 lifting anything that will make you strain—which includes lifting a child, a vacuum, or grocery bags—for about 1 week after laparoscopic surgery and 4 to 6 weeks after open surgery.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weightlifting, and aerobic exercise, for 4 to 6 weeks after open surgery and 1 week after laparoscopic surgery.
  • You may shower. Pat the incision dry when you are done. Do not take a bath for the first week after surgery or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • You may have some light vaginal bleeding. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche or use tampons.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take 2 to 4 weeks off work for open surgery and 1 week off for laparoscopic surgery or vaginal surgery. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can have sex again.

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.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • 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 you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain 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.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Other instructions

  • If you go home with a urinary catheter, follow your doctor's instructions on catheter care.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly, such as a girdle, for a few weeks.
  • Your doctor may recommend pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises, which tighten and strengthen pelvic muscles, once you have completely healed. To do Kegel exercises:
    • Squeeze the same muscles you would use to stop your urine. Your belly and thighs should not move.
    • Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 3 seconds.
    • Start with 3 seconds. Then add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds.
    • Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times for each session. Do three or more sessions each day.

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 sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

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

  • You have severe belly pain.
  • You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
  • You have foul-smelling discharge from your vagina that lasts for more than 1 to 2 weeks.
  • You are sick to your stomach and cannot drink fluids.
  • Your pain does not get better after you take your pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches or an open incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have trouble passing urine or stool, especially if you have pain or swelling in your lower belly.

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.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: February 25, 2016