Recovery at Home After Pelvic Surgery

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Recovery at Home After Pelvic Surgery

Recovery at Home After Pelvic Surgery

Pelvic surgery is used to strengthen and repair the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor. This procedure is often necessary for women experiencing symptoms like pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, or discomfort during intercourse due to pelvic floor dysfunction. Additionally, pelvic surgery can address issues stemming from endometriosis excision, cancer treatment, hysterectomy, vaginoplasty, or injury repair.

No matter the medical reason, caring for yourself after surgery is important for a smoother healing process and to reduce the risk of complications. In the following sections, we'll delve into essential self-care tips to help you navigate your post-operative journey with confidence and ease.

Table of Contents

  1. Prepare Your Home for Recovery
  2. Manage Pain Effectively
  3. Keep Your Wounds Dry
  4. Ease Back Into Exercises
  5. Incorporate Vaginal Dilator Therapy
  6. Follow a Well-balanced Diet
  7. Prioritize Your Mental Well-being
  8. Conclusion

    Prepare Your Home for Recovery

    Returning home after a hospital stay requires proper preparation to ensure a comfortable and accessible living space that supports your healing process. Arrange your home in a way that minimizes the need to navigate stairs or cramped spaces and keeps essential items within easy reach. Stock up on supplies such as medications, wound care materials, nutritious foods, and any prescribed equipment, including medical devices like vaginal dilators if recommended by your healthcare provider.

    Manage Pain Effectively

    After pelvic surgery, it is common to experience soreness, cramping, swelling around incisions, and overall pelvic discomfort as the tissues and muscles in the area heal. Difficulty with bowel or bladder function may also occur. These symptoms are often temporary and typically take 6-8 weeks to heal, depending on the type of surgery you have had.

    Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for pain management, which may include prescription drugs or over-the-counter remedies. You can also apply ice packs to the perineum (outside the vagina) for up to 20 minutes as often as needed to reduce swelling or use a heating pad on your belly to help with pain. 

    Rest when you feel tired, as getting enough sleep will aid in your recovery. Avoid strenuous activities and give your body the time it needs to heal.

    Keep Your Wounds Dry

    Taking care of surgical wounds or incisions is important to prevent infection and avoid unnecessary discomfort by limiting the possibility of scarring after surgery. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions on how to clean the surgical site and any dressings that may be applied.

    If surgical tape is on the incisions, leave it on for a week or until it falls off. Showering is preferable to bathing in the first week after surgery, or until your doctor tells you it's okay. Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry afterward. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

    Ease Back Into Exercises

    Gradually reintroduce physical activity to promote healing and strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Your healthcare provider may recommend specific exercises to aid in recovery or provide guidelines on when it's safe to resume normal activities and exercise. 

    Aim to walk each day, initially just a little more than you walked the previous day, and then increase gradually. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolisms. 

    Avoid lifting anything that can strain your muscles until your doctor approves, including children, heavy grocery bags, milk containers, briefcases, backpacks, cat litter, dog food bags, or vacuum cleaners. Also, refrain from strenuous activities like biking, jogging, weightlifting, and aerobic exercises until your doctor gives the green light.

    Incorporate Vaginal Dilator Use

    Vaginal dilators are a safe at-home treatment that benefits women during post-surgery recovery. They are often recommended as part of the healing process because they help prevent scar tissue from forming, increase blood flow to the area, and aid in breaking down any scar tissue that has already formed. You can incorporate a dilator into your routine, as scarring can occur at any time after surgery. However, it's advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before using vaginal dilators during post-surgery recovery.

    Follow a Well-balanced Diet

    Your body needs enough nutrients to heal after surgery. Focus on consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, as these will help promote tissue repair and reduce the risk of infection. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt. Additionally, drink plenty of fluids throughout the recovery process unless your doctor advises otherwise.

    It is not uncommon for your bowel movements to be irregular after surgery. If you experience constipation, your surgeon may recommend dietary changes or over-the-counter remedies. It is best to avoid putting pressure on the vaginal area by straining during bathroom use.

    Prioritize Your Mental Well-being

    Depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms are common after surgery, but they don’t have to be. Tending to your mental wellness post-surgery will smooth the recovery process — body, mind, and spirit. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga to reduce stress and promote emotional healing. Be kind to yourself and seek support from family and friends, or consider talking to a therapist if needed.


    With the right care and tools, you can return to your normal life more easily and quickly. Ensure the best possible outcome by following the guidance provided by your surgeon and healthcare team.

    If your healthcare provider recommends vaginal dilator therapy for promoting healing and long-term pelvic health, consider VWELL medical-grade silicone dilators. They are an excellent choice for supporting the restoration of vaginal elasticity and function, contributing to your overall well-being.


    1. How long does it take to recover from pelvic surgery?

    Recovery time can vary depending on the individual's overall health, the extent of the surgery, and any complications that may arise. Most women can expect to return to normal activities within 4 to 6 weeks following pelvic surgery. However, full recovery may take several months, so following post-operative instructions carefully and avoiding activities that could strain the pelvic floor is important.

    2. When can I resume sexual activity after pelvic surgery?

    Typically, this can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks, depending on how well you're healing and any specific instructions from your healthcare provider. Intercourse may be a little uncomfortable initially, so take things slowly and use a lubricant to alleviate dryness. If intercourse remains uncomfortable after 3 or 4 months of regular attempts, seek advice from your doctor.

    3. When can I resume driving after pelvic surgery?

    Refrain from driving if you're taking painkillers that may have a sedative effect or if you feel uncertain about your ability to execute an emergency stop if required. A general guide is to wait 1 to 2 weeks before driving again. If you're unsure, consulting your doctor is wise. Additionally, some insurance companies will not insure drivers for several weeks after surgery, so it's better to check your policy details.

    4. When should I ask for medical advice?

    Follow-up care is vital for your treatment and safety, as it monitors your progress and helps prevent further complications. Be sure to attend all scheduled appointments, and call your doctor if you experience heavy or foul-smelling vaginal discharge or bleeding, burning or stinging when passing urine, increasing abdominal pains, vomiting, fever, painful swollen leg(s), shortness of breath, or chest pain, or any other discomfort.

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