Things I Wish I had Known Before My Myomectomy
Updated: Feb 13
I am now 3 months post-open myomectomy. Can you believe it?! Time sure has flown by and my progress and recovery have been nothing short of amazing. I really struggled the first 5 weeks post surgery and would catch myself here and there comparing my recovery to others who said they were up and about after just 2 weeks.
If you are preparing for a myomectomy, I encourage to read this post which would provide you with a step by step preparation guide. There are so many things I did not know about prior to my myomectomy and I am sure you would learn a thing or two from my experience.
For today's blog post, I really wanted to share a list of things I wish I had known before my surgery and which would surely help the next woman who has to go through this life-changing experience. Please bare in mind that I am sharing this information based on my personal experience with fibroids and an open myomectomy but at the end of the day, each person's journey and experience is different.
This does not however take anything away from my experience and so you should look to this as a guide and not a set list of things to expect (or not) post-myomectomy.
Before we dive into the list of the unexpected things to expect pre and post-myomectomy, I would like to share some of post-surgery milestones as they occurred for me.
- I have recently resumed working out.
Although my doctor cleared me at the 6 week mark to resume exercise (except for heavy weights and challenging abdominal exercises), I still stuck with just walking until week 9 when I started performing some minor cardio exercises. This included jogging at home, jump rope, yoga and low intensity exercises.
I know a lot of women have said they started working out sooner but my body did not feel ready and I listened to her. I was still feeling a slight pain whenever I would get up from lying down and my abdomen still felt a little out of place. I mean, it took me 4 weeks just to make it to the front of my building after surgery and 6 weeks for my scar to close up so I know my body was taking its sweet time to get back to normal.
- I got my first (and second) period
It took me 8 weeks to get my first period after my myomectomy. I remember my doctor starting to get worried when I still had not gotten my period but it ended up creeping on me like a thief in the night. The first day was so painless but the second day I had a pretty heavy flow and some cramping that required a few Tylenols during the day. It was not as heavy and painful as my periods pre-surgery but it was still pretty heavy.
The second period happened right on schedule as per my cycle chart and this one was lighter and even less painful. My doctor had told me to wait for at least 3 periods to really see the difference the surgery would make and so I'll wait for the next one to really see what I can expect in terms of pain and flow during my periods from now on.
- I went on an international trip
One of the things I was looking forward to the most after my surgery was a getaway to somewhere warm with beautiful beaches and good food. I embarked on a trip to Mexico 9 weeks after my surgery and it was everything I needed. I indulged in endless tacos and tequilas while further testing the extent of my recovery.
I took part in some zip lining and ATV exercises but I won't lie, the ATV was not the most comfortable for my incision due to all the bumps in the road and I couldn't wait for it to be over. The plane ride to and from Canada was not bad at all and I did not need to get up and stretch during the entire 4.5 hour flight.
I'm so proud of myself for crossing these milestones and if you are in the early stages of recovery, I pray your recovery is full and speedy so that you can resume your normal activities ASAP. Remember that although your physical body is healing, your inside is still healing. I am still considered to be in recovery from an open myomectomy even though I have resumed normal activities.
If you are preparing for an open myomectomy, I have a list of suggested items to get prior to your surgery HERE.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.
Now I would like to share some things I wish I had known before being cut open to take out the large fibroids growing in my uterus.
1) The scar itch
Why didn't anyone tell me the myomectomy scar itches months or even years post-surgery. I posted a video to my Tik Tok page showing how itchy my scar was and trying to find ways to scratch it in public without looking weird. I would not want folks to think I'm out here with some weird pubic rash or even an STD.
It does not matter if I rub Vaseline or my scar gel on it or not, if my incision wants to itch, it will itch and almost embarrass me in public. Some women have told me that never goes away and so I wish someone would have advised me of this sooner so as to be prepared at least.
2) The weird tug
Sometimes, if I lie down on my back for a while and try to suddenly get up from the bed, I feel a weird tug that seems to originate from within my uterus. I also feel it when I stand up too quickly at times and makes me wonder if this is a sensation that will dissipate with time or one I should learn to live with forever. The comments I have gotten on Tik Tok have been mixed and so I cannot say for certain if the tug ever goes away.
3) The scar darkening
I knew my scar would dry up and heel on its own. However, like many black women, I have noticed that my scar is now darker than the skin around it and is also slightly raised. I am still applying my scar cream daily to see if that would make any difference but a lot of women say after a year or so, the skin lightens up.
As someone with a vertical incision versus a horizontal one, I expect mine to take longer than the norm. I keep taking care of the skin around the incision by gently exfoliating it and keeping it moisturized on the daily.
4) You're not back to your normal self after 6 weeks
Forget what the Mayo clinic and Web MD say, but 6 weeks is not enough recovery time. That 6 week mark is just for things to begin to feel normal but you should take off any additional time you may need if this is an option for you. As I have mentioned, it took me 5 weeks just to make it outside and I could not imagine having to head to an office at week 6.
I have a new-found respect for women who have C-sections because I cannot imagine having to care for a new-born while barely being able to care for myself. Even though I felt more normal, I was still experiencing fatigue, some tugging and slower movements after 6 weeks. Before my surgery, I thought at week 6 I would be able to wear heels and create content - jokes on me!
5) Your uterus is actually reconstructed as part of an open myomectomy
Here I was thinking an open myomectomy only meant that the fibroids were being taken out. Little did I know the entire uterus needs to be reconstructed after surgery and this is probably why it hurts so much more. If your doctor suggests an open myomectomy, your fibroids are typically on the large side.
After they are taken out, the shape of your uterus is off. Your doctor now needs to try and sew it back into shape in addition to closing you up using several layers of stitches across tissue, muscle and skin. When you picture it that way, it really puts into perspective just how major a myomectomy is in terms of surgery.
6) Your belly and body will swell before shrinking
Even 6 weeks after my surgery, my belly was very swollen, although smaller than what it looked like before surgery. When I stood up, the shrinking was barely visible and I even looked pregnant from the side. It's when I lied down that you could really tell my abdomen had gone down.
This photo above is me 5 weeks post-myomectomy!
I was a little worried in the beginning but was informed that the abdominal swelling actually takes 3-6 months to go down. Not only is your uterus shrinking back its normal size after being stretched out for so long but your body is also ejecting the litres of fluid it was pumped with during and after surgery so it's normal to look swollen all over.
The photo below is me 12 weeks post-myomectomy!
7) You will urinate very frequently
This one really took me by surprise. I had to use the bathroom every 2-3 hours the first 2 weeks post-surgery. It was so brutal because I had such a hard time getting up from bed/ my couch and would dread the pain of walking to my bathroom. At times I just wanted to be left in the toilet to avoid all this movement but a girl also needed her rest.
I even begged my mom to just put a diaper on me and allow me to urinate on myself but she insisted I needed the movement to help me recover faster and no daughter of hers was going to defecate on herself while she was around. Thank God for no-nonsense moms, right?
8) Coughing, sneezing and laughing could make you cry
One of the side affects of general anesthesia is a small cough and sore throat. The first time I attempted to cough some hours after surgery, I thought I had popped all my stitches and needed to be returned to the OR for more surgery. It was extremely painful. I dreaded having to sneeze or cough and would hold them in for as long as I could. I would try to cough only from my chest and not my abdomen.
I would grab a pillow and bend over if I knew a big one was coming and then hate the pain I would feel afterwards. I reminded well-meaning friends and loved ones to avoid cracking jokes because although they would lift my mood, they would leave me in agonizing pain from even the slightest chuckle. I really took for granted all the activities that required the use of abdominal muscles.
9) You could bleed for up to 4 weeks post-surgery
I did not wear any underwear during my entire 6 week recovery. I experienced vaginal bleeding for up to 5 weeks post-surgery. I had to wear a pad for the longest time and did not want anything rubbing against my incision and so underwear became something foreign to me. The hospitals do have the best pads I have ever had and my mom and I were fortunate to be given a bunch of them by a kind nurse upon my discharge.
They were actually pads normally reserved for people with bladder dysfunctions and can be found HERE. Whenever I would cough or sneeze, I would feel some blood gush out. Definitely was not expecting that.
10) You may need a commode and walker
I am so so glad I had purchased a cane prior to my surgery and had taken it with me to the hospital because I definitely depended on it for weeks. Ideally I would have gotten a walker but they were sold out in my local stores. I also did not realize how low my toilet seat was until it was time to use the bathroom at home.
My mom and I were able to rent one for a month after my surgery because there was no way I could stoop that low. If your toilet bowl is on the low side, you may want to look into commodes as well. I rented mine for about $50 for 30 days.
Another very important lesson I learned was that you need to quadruple your protein intake. I was adding vegan protein to all my smoothies and my yogurt. This helps scar healing to occur faster. This is the protein I was using. You want to avoid animal-based protein because they tend to have more calories and can also mess up your hormones, which are all over the place.
I hope with this list, you would be even more prepared than I was for your myomectomy. Don't forget that for the 1st week, you will need someone to help you 24/7 so arrange for that well in advance.
I know some women say they were up and running 3 days after their surgery and that may be their experience but I would rather you be over prepared and expect the worse than wrongfully assume you'll snap right back and instead have a rough recovery, not having the resources and info you need.
Let me know if you have any questions with regards to fibroids, myomectomies and the recovery.
I encourage to check out my post on what to wear to surgery as well as a week by week breakdown of my first month of recovery post-myomectomy.
You can click on the images below to shop my full list of myomectomy items.
Until the next post,