Dealing With Incontinence After a Hysterectomy
by Gary Sattin on Oct 05, 2022
Hysterectomies are important surgical operations for women struggling with several different health challenges. A hysterectomy can address the build-up of fibroids—benign uterine growths—as well as malignant cancers near and around the uterus. Also, endometriosis, another common precursor to a corrective hysterectomy, involves the painful growth of uterine lining tissue outside the uterus. As the uterus shifts with age or after childbirth, women may also experience prolapse—the uterus dropping near the vagina—and require a hysterectomy to address it.
These surgeries give so many women a better quality of life, but sometimes these women experience an uptick in urinary incontinence. Here’s our guide to dealing with incontinence after a hysterectomy so your primary experience from your surgery is relief, not shame.
How a Hysterectomy Affects Bladder Function
When considering how to deal with incontinence after a hysterectomy, it’s important to first understand how different hysterectomies affect bladder function. There are many types, but understanding the differences between total and radical hysterectomies helps explain the specific effects.
First, total hysterectomies involve the removal of the uterus and the cervix. These are the most common operations and are associated with stress incontinence postsurgery. Stress incontinence, which results from pelvic floor muscle changes coupled with constant pressure on this weakened floor, leads to more frequent and uncontrollable urination and accidents.
On the other hand, a radical hysterectomy, with the removal of the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and certain ligaments and lymph nodes, has additional effects. In addition to structural changes without the uterus in place, removing the ovaries drastically adjusts your hormonal makeup. Estrogen is vital for proper tissue growth, and in its absence, it’s more difficult for your body to protect your bladder against irritation and maintain a healthy pelvic floor. The benefits of a radical hysterectomy are worth it for cancer patients commonly undergoing the procedure, but these are the possible consequences to this surgery.
How to Address Your Incontinence
There are several tried-and-true strategies for limiting incontinence problems after a hysterectomy.
To build up and maintain muscle tone and strength in your pelvic floor, be consistent about Kegel exercises. These compensate for how structural changes in your body may lead to incontinence, lessening the severity of your accidents and giving you more freedom over your urination. Talk to your doctor about when you can begin these after surgery.
Biofeedback and Bladder Training
As you directly combat the structural changes that affect your urinary function, combine these efforts with biofeedback and bladder training techniques. Heightening your physical awareness and control by practicing body consciousness further increases your control, while setting rules for your bathroom habits helps you slowly make it more predictable.
Use Incontinence Products
When you experience chronic symptoms, rather than letting discouragement set in, try TotalDry pads. As you work with your doctor to determine how exactly to attack your urinary symptoms, incontinence products give you immediate and absolute relief.