Painful intercourse, chronic pelvic pain, unusual vaginal bleeding or heavy periods, painful bowel movement, and urinary problems are more than frustrating. They could be signs of endometriosis, the condition in which tissue that is similar to the endometrial lining of the uterus grows in another area. Usually, the abnormal tissue grows elsewhere in the pelvic area, including near the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Standard non-invasive imaging such as ultrasound is ineffective at identifying endometriosis lesions, so a doctor may need to perform laparoscopy to reach a conclusive diagnosis.
Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves placing a thin tube with a camera into the abdomen to view the uterus and other pelvic organs. If lesions are found, they can be removed at the same time. Here, we discuss what a patient may do after their laparoscopy to expedite their recovery.
Setting the Stage for Recovery
Emotional balance is key to an optimal recovery after laparoscopy. Patients should not be surprised if they encounter feelings of sadness or weepiness. This may be in part to the anesthesia used during the procedure. Another reason for emotional overwhelm is receiving a diagnosis of endometriosis. It is estimated that it may take 10 years from the onset of symptoms for a woman to receive confirmation regarding the source of her pain. Getting a final answer regarding the origin of symptoms can be both relieving and emotional. Therefore, one of the most significant aspects of healing can be to take life slowly for a few weeks.
Fostering Comfort after Laparoscopy
Patients scheduled for laparoscopy may benefit from the following:
- Arrange for a supportive loved one to drive home and remain with them for the rest of the day.
- Schedule up to 1 week off work to prevent unnecessary stress and to allow the body to heal fully before resuming the usual pace of life.
- Bring a small pillow or soft towel to the procedure. This can be placed between the abdomen and the seatbelt during the drive home.
- Bring along a deep bowl or bag for the drive home. Anesthesia can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Drink peppermint tea to reduce gas pain that may result from trapped carbon dioxide in the abdomen.
- Go for slow, easy walks as often as several times a day. This also helps move the carbon dioxide out of the belly.
- Have sanitary pads on hand. Light bleeding can occur throughout the first week after the procedure. Tampons should NOT be used.