Does hypnotherapy help hysterectomy recovery?
As a qualified hypnotherapist I would instantly answer yes that hypnosis helped my hysterectomy recovery, however I can only prove that it worked for me.
I had been suffering from heavy periods which caused anaemia and having tried many other medical interventions, and following a blood transfusion, I was advised to have a hysterectomy.
I had started training to become a hypnotherapist. I’d only been practising on friends and family so I was by no means an expert! I was reading a lot about it, and learning loads though, so when my operation was due, I took steps to help myself.
For the weeks leading up to the operation, just before going to sleep, I practised self-hypnosis and told myself about the marvellous recovery I was going to make. Even if you have not been training to be a hypnotherapist, you can practise self-hypnosis safely and on your own.
Hypnosis is a heightened form of relaxation or concentration. It feels different to different people, but a hypnotic state is something everyone experiences from time to time without even realising. Think about the feelings you have just before you fall asleep and something disturbs you and you know you weren’t asleep but you still feel as though you’ve been woken up. Or when your leg suddenly jerks and you realise you were almost asleep. Or when you suddenly realise you’ve driven for a few miles and you don’t remember the roundabout or the lights you passed through. You were somewhere else in your head, but if you had needed to stop you would have. Trust me, you were driving safely.
In hypnotherapy, the therapist using words and techniques to help you to reach a relaxed state and then talks to your sub-conscious mind making suggestions on how to help you to achieve goals or relieve pain. In self-hypnosis you can achieve the same results with a little time each day.
So step by step, here are pointers for self-hypnosis. This is for use before your hysterectomy to help with a speedy recovery.
- Believe in yourself that you can make a difference to your recovery. How many stories have you heard of mind over matter? The man lifting a car to save a child? Someone battling a serious illness beyond their life expectancy? A friend overcoming a phobia or fear? You have nothing to lose by trying, but really believing it will make a difference and it will make it work better. Your brain is not stupid, and if you’re telling it something whilst thinking I don’t believe it, it will notice. Having said that, if you tell yourself something often enough, you will eventually accept it as true.
- Little and often. You don’t need to spend hours on this, just a few minutes every day will be more effective that trying to cram it in like exam revision just before your operation. Little and often works on persuading that part of your sub-conscious you are inviting to help you to do its thing.
- Choose the best time of day that you can stick to. I did it every night before sleep. The danger is you will fall asleep before you’ve finished, but some people find it easier to relax in bed and find self-hypnosis more effective at that time for them.
- The more you do it, the easier it gets…I can now count down anywhere and feel myself relaxing…useful when I’m getting stressed about something.
Now the how-to…
- Make sure you will not be interrupted. Lie or sit comfortably. If it helps you, imagine a place you feel safe and happy, such as a favourite beach. When you’re ready, count backwards from ten to one. With every count tell yourself you are 10% more relaxed and imagine you are sinking deeper into your chair/bed with every number. Imagine your body getting heavier and all your muscles are too heavy to lift and notice how comfortable you feel.
- When you get to one
- Imagine and tell yourself (in your mind, not out loud) how relaxed you will be going into your operation. Imagine in as much detail as you can the scene of you, your partner or friend and the hospital staff and notice how very relaxed you are about the procedure, how you know it is safe and how the results are going to be great.
- Tell yourself how you are going to recover. Imagine your body healing, picture your stomach with no scar, and imagine afterwards how well your body has healed.
- Picture the consultant coming in the room after three days and telling you how amazed he/she is with your progress and how you’ll be able to go home early. Make the images as real as you can, play it out like a story, like watching a film if you find that easier. Imagine yourself with visitors at home, telling you how well you look, and you telling them that you have no pain and you are very comfortable. Imagine yourself doing household jobs, walking to the shops and other every day things after your operation.
- If you haven’t fallen asleep by the end, count yourself back to ten, telling yourself you are going to be more and more awake and alert and feeling great about yourself. Unless like me you do it just before sleep, in which case you might want to leave the feeling awake and alert bit out.
Now, I need to point a few things out.
- I am not suggesting that this will take the place of any medication and medical advice you are given. I practiced my pelvic floor exercises. I walked every day following the operation. It wasn’t very far and it was very slow, but I followed the advice given and I did take painkillers.
- I was also lucky in that my workplace provided private healthcare and so I had great drugs for stopping sickness and I had an epidural and smaller general anaesthetic which helped me avoid so much of the post grogginess. I have no doubt that helped greatly.
- I am not someone who previously had healed quickly and normally I would have been very worried about the operation. This time I was not worried and I did heal quickly.
- The consultant came in the room on day 3 and was amazed at how well I was recovering and I was allowed to go home on day 4 – a day earlier than expected!
I am convinced that the self-hypnosis helped me in my recovery. Your brain is a wonderful, complex organ. Give it the credit to help you in your recovery. It’s only asking for a bit of guidance for a few minutes each day and it will help you feel more confident and relaxed before the surgery and it will help you heal faster afterwards.
Emma Bevan is a qualified hypnotherapist and is now a playwright and fiction writer, and also enjoys sharing her experience around women’s health and lifestyle. Emma had a hysterectomy in 2004.
(Image courtesy: Richard Bergh [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)