A hysterectomy is the removal of your uterus. The goal of the initial surgery is to remove all visible ovarian cancer. Surgery confirms the diagnosis and how far the cancer has spread. It is also the initial treatment for the cancer. Having an experienced gynecologic oncologist will help you get the best possible treatment and live longer than having a doctor who doesn't have as much experience treating ovarian cancer.footnote 1
Surgery for ovarian cancer usually includes:
Your long-term outcome (prognosis) depends on the type and stage of your cancer, your age, your overall health, and the amount of cancer that remains after surgery.
Feeling better after surgery takes time. Most women are in the hospital 1 or 2 days after the surgery. Some women stay in the hospital up to 4 days.
When you get home, make sure you move around, but also be sure you don't do too much. You can walk around the house and up and down stairs, but take it slow. During the first 2 weeks, it's important to get plenty of rest. Even after you start to feel stronger, you should not lift heavy things (anything over 20 pounds). Also, you should not have sex until your doctor says it's okay. It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to get back to a normal routine.
Chemotherapy, which uses medicines to kill cancer cells, is recommended after surgery for most stages of ovarian cancer. Chemotherapy is usually started 1 to 4 weeks after surgery.
After a hysterectomy, call your doctor if:
Your doctor will give you specific instructions after your hysterectomy. Be sure to follow them. Usually, getting some rest and following those instructions will help problems after surgery diminish over time.
Ovarian cancer develops in one ovary but can spread to the other ovary, the uterus, and the other abdominal organs too. The goal of the first surgery is to remove all visible cancer. The surgery confirms the diagnosis and how far the cancer has spread.
Surgery may be the only treatment needed for women with early-stage ovarian cancer and low risk of the cancer progressing. This includes women whose surgery showed no tumor cells in the abdomen or in the capsule surrounding the ovary.
Most women do not have complications after a hysterectomy. But complications that may occur include:
Other complications may include:
You may develop other physical problems after a hysterectomy. In some women, the pelvic muscles and ligaments that support the vagina, bladder, and rectum may become weak. The weakness may cause bladder or bowel problems, such as cystocele, urinary incontinence, or rectocele. Kegel exercises may help strengthen the pelvic muscles. And some women need other treatments, including additional surgery.
Vaginal dryness may develop from the removal of your ovaries and the loss of the hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that the ovaries make. If sexual intercourse is painful because of vaginal dryness:
Following hysterectomy, you will not be able to become pregnant. If you have plans for a future pregnancy, talk with your doctor about what other treatments might be possible.
Your doctor will tell you how long you should wait after surgery before having sexual intercourse. If you have pain during intercourse, changing positions may help make intercourse less painful. If you continue to have trouble during intercourse after a hysterectomy, talk with your doctor.
Sexual response is different for every woman. Some women may notice a change in their sexual response after a hysterectomy. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have. To learn more, see the topic Sexual Problems in Women.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2013). Ovarian cancer, including fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, version 1.2013. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/ovarian.pdf.
Current as of:
December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineKirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.