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Types of Anaesthetic

There are a number of different types of anaesthetic and most hysterectomies are performed while the patient is under a full anaesthetic. This will knock you out throughout the operation and you will eventually come round in the recovery room. However, this type of anaesthetic can have side effects which may include nausea and dizziness, an incredible tiredness for several days, not being able to think clearly for at least 24 hours after your surgery.  It can also take several months for the anaesthetic to work its way out of your body completely (drinking plenty of water and taking enough exercise can help this enormously). 

BUT, all is not lost, if you have had a bad experience with anaesthesia previously, it may be possible to do a hysterectomy with just a spinal block (epidural). This will mean that you are awake during surgery and may even be fully aware of everything that is going on (although some women have reported that they are in a sort of ‘twilight’ and don’t remember too much of the surgery afterwards).

To have an epidural you will need to have a reasonably calm temperament as anxiety will interfere with the anaesthetic used. You will also need to be able to withstand pain, as 100% pain relief cannot be guaranteed throughout the entire operation. Finally, you should agree with your anaesthetist in advance about how you might be able to let him (or her) know if you find you cannot cope.

HOWEVER, an epidural may not be available in all hospitals, and you will need to ask both your gynaecologist AND the anaesthetist if they are happy to perform surgery in this way.

I recently received this from one of our lovely users called Judith. She says “Hi Linda I had my hysterectomy 3 weeks ago, still struggling on with the recovery a n d had some post operation complications, which I won’t go into now. I have however just read about anaesthetic, I had a spinal which at the time I was terrified about, due to me having fibromyalgia my anaesthetic didn’t want me to have a general anaesthetic, I said I did not want to be awake so he sedated me as well. I had no recollection whatsoever about any of it thankfully, it helped with pain control too for a while till it wore off. So I had no post anaesthetic probes at all, had a g a six .months ago and felt terrible for a good four weeks after,so I could recommend it however scared I was at the time!!

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Linda Parkinson-Hardman

Transformational coach and founder of the Hysterectomy Association. Professionally I'm an information scientist who specialises in the adoption and engagement of digital technologies. I am a writer and author of nine books to date, and I've edited a further seven; phew what a lot for a Thursday afternoon :-)

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. How long until you were able to be up for short periods of time? How long were you required to be bed bound?

  2. Hi. I had my TAH (kept ovaries) 25 days ago. I was nervous about nausea following the operation more than the pain to be honest. A spinal was discussed so I would not need the morphine patient pump immediately after surgery but as I was already naturally anxious, I did not have this. The pre-med was given followed shortly after by the anesthetic into the back of my hand. That is the last thing I remember until I sort of came around in the recovery room. Already I feel this was absolutely the best decision as I had been suffering with continuous heavy periods for years coupled with a large fibroid. I was in hospital for three nights. The worst part was getting out of bed for the first time but, after that it gets easier every time. Two tips for you. Big knickers and a v pillow will make you more comfortable. Don’t be a hero – accept pain relief if you need it. No need to suffer. I wish you well. Let me know how the operation went. Anne-Marie xxx

  3. This is my first time posting and I really appreciate all of the comments. I am having an hysterectomy on July 7 and I am very nerves, because I really don’t know what to expect. I know that I prefer to be put to sleep. I am gradually over coming my fears of doctors, hospitals, medications. It really do not take much for me to relieve pain. I am going too pray and trust God’s will for me during this procedure. It is such a blessing to be able to connect with others who is are already been through it. Two things I know you all have in common is having an hysterectomy, and That you all have over came your procedure and healed. Now that’s Gods doing.

  4. I am having a hysterectomy in approx 4 weeks and as I had 2 c sections and steralised with epidural would like this done for the hysterectomy. I am overweight and not good with anything that makes my sleepy, but surgeon is not keen and will have to see the anaesthetist.

    It is to be a full vaginal procedure so is it possible, or is my size causing the problem as surgeon says she may have to site the ports higher up.

  5. I am having a hysterectomy, not sure of the date but I want to be awake for the procedure, but I am over weight as well( like 305)

  6. I will be going to the doctor tomorrow for a transvaginal ultrasound and a pelvic ultrasound before my hysterectomy is scheduled. My doctor has already stated that I for sure need a partial hysterectomy but is doing the ultrasounds to make sure that everything is okay before making his decision on what type of hysterectomy to perform. In the past with my first 2 C-sections, I was put to sleep and had tons of issues with the anesthesia, with the main issue being it causing my blood pressure to shoot up to stroke level. I chose to stay awake during my 3rd C-section and had no complications at all. So, I guess my questions is, is if I have my hysterectomy done with a epidural, will it pretty much be the same as staying awake for my C-section? I am beyond scared to be put under anesthesia.

  7. I had a double abdominal block with a very light g.a. Virtually no pain afterwards as the block was effective for several hours. I know this is an experimental technique in the UK but has been used in India for many years. The anesthetist had just come back from sabbatical where he learnt the technique. The surgeon was skeptical beforehand but afterwards said he was a convert. I only took paracetamol for a couple of days afterwards and I don’t have a high pain threshold! The block did not affect my sense of when I needed the loo – it just blocked the pain.

  8. Hi everyone, This is also my first post on here and I too have been reading everyone else’s blogs that I have found really useful. I had my hysterectomy on 13th January and had it done vaginally with a spinal block. I left hospital the morning following my afternoon procedure and returned to work after 4 weeks. I have just been discharged by my consultant, had no complications and no post op issues whatsoever. I also had very little pain and only took two paracetamol the morning after and that was it! I took arnica supplements immediately following the surgery and for 5 days afterwards, although their benefits aren’t proven I would like to think they helped! I didn’t fancy having a general anaesthetic and increasing my recovery time. I’m the single parent of a young child and so a quick and easy recovery was crucial! I was fully prepared beforehand and took in my iPhone and headphones and listened to a relaxation app on my phone during the procedure. The spinal itself was completely painless and I felt very little during the procedure, even though my womb was the size of a 16 week pregnancy! I would imagine that some people would find being awake daunting as I could see and hear everything, so careful thought needs to be given to whether you could cope with this. I would definitely recommend this although other ladies will have to ask their anaesthetist about this as the only option given to me was a general and no one else in the hospital had seen a hysterectomy perform with a spinal! Anyway, hopefully this will be helpful and may give other ladies something to think about. Good luck to anyone awaiting surgery and speedy recovery to all those post op ladies! X

  9. This is the first time I have written to you though I have been grateful for all your helpful advice.
    I had a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and omentectomy just before Christmas due to an extremely large ovarian cyst. Luckily no further treatment is necessary as the cancer was encapsulated in the cyst so I will be monitored for the next three years. I had an excellent surgeon and I am making a good recovery.
    I just wanted to say with regard to anaesthetics I had a general for the op but an epidural was inserted before that and remained in place for two days after the op which I am sure helped me through the worst of the pain and when that was removed I had paracetamol, ibruprofen and morphine.
    The only side effect of the epidural was a lowering of my already low blood pressure causing me to pass out when they first got me out of bed. But it was worth it for the pain relief!

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