Summary: Surgery is a medical procedure that requires a lot of preparation, and certain issues may interfere with it. For women, menstruation seems to be one of those primary concerns, as it could add discomfort and potential health risks. In this article, we will delve into the question whether you can undergo surgery while on your period and everything else that comes with it.
1. The Physiology of Menstruation
Menstruation refers to the natural process of shedding the uterus lining, which usually happens every 28 days or so in women’s reproductive cycles. The blood loss from the vagina can range from moderate to heavy, accompanied by other related symptoms such as cramps, bloating, mood swings, and fatigue. Women sometimes feel unwell during this time, and they may wonder whether going under anesthesia for surgery will aggravate their menstrual symptoms.
The good news is that there are no known contraindications between menstruation and surgery. Menstruating patients are given the same medical standards during surgery as non-menstruating patients. As with any other surgery, the surgeons will need to adjust to the patient’s unique situation, including medications prescribed, vital signs, and other factors that may affect the outcome of the operation.
However, some menstrual symptoms could indirectly affect your surgery. For instance, if you have heavy bleeding, you are likely low on iron levels, which could increase the risks of surgical complications. Additionally, if you suffer from endometriosis, a condition that causes the growth of tissues outside the uterus lining, you could experience more severe menstrual pain that could interfere with your recovery from surgery.
2. Discuss the Issue with Your Surgeon
While menstruation won’t bar you from having surgery, it is essential to discuss this issue with your surgeon before going under the knife. This conversation could help you determine the best course of action regarding menstrual management during the procedure, especially if you experience heavy bleeding. You might also want to tell the surgical nurse so that they can make necessary arrangements, such as preparing an extra supply of sanitary pads or placing a waterproof sheet under you to protect the table from excessive blood.
In addition, consider disclosing to your anesthesiologist and medical team if you are taking any hormonal medications to manage your menstrual cycle, as these could affect anesthesia absorption in the body and may cause unexpected reactions during the operation. Whatever concern you may have about menstruation and surgery, be sure to ask questions and voice your opinions to your surgeon’s team openly and honestly.
3. Follow Pre-Surgery Instructions Carefully
To ensure a smooth and successful surgery, you must follow the pre-operative guidelines from your doctor. Before your operation, your medical team will provide instructions on how to prepare for the procedure, including what foods and beverages to avoid, what medications to stop taking, and when to stop eating and drinking altogether.
That said, menstruating women should take additional steps to manage their menstrual symptoms according to their doctor’s instructions. For example, you may be advised to take ibuprofen a few days before the procedure to alleviate cramps and reduce the risk of excessive bleeding during the operation. You may also need to adjust your sanitary pads more frequently throughout the day while getting ready for surgery.
Moreover, good hygiene is critical when undergoing any procedure, so make sure to have a bath or shower the day of the surgery or the night before. This will prevent any potential infection, which can be particularly dangerous for women during their menstruation period. Finally, wear clean and comfortable clothing that is easy to remove and slip into a sterile gown during surgery. You don’t want to be uncomfortable before, during, or after the procedure.
4. Recovery from Surgery and Menstruation
Just like with pre-surgery preparations, you must follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions carefully. Your doctor may recommend a specific diet, medications, or physical activity restrictions to promote efficient healing and prevent infections.
If you are menstruating at the time of recovery, you need to take extra measures to manage your symptoms, such as using heating pads, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, or getting sufficient rest to minimize fatigue. Try to avoid wearing tampons, especially in the first few days after the operation, and opt for sanitary pads instead since tampon use has the potential to introduce harmful bacteria into the uterus and lead to infection.
Further, maintain high standards of hygiene and keep the surgical site clean throughout menstruation. Dispose of used pads in sealed plastic bags, change your pads regularly, and don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after each pad change. Failing to do so increases the risk of inflammation, infection, and other complications.
As we have seen throughout this article, being on your period during surgery is common and does not necessarily pose additional health risks. However, it is still a good idea to communicate any concerns you may have about menstruation and the related symptoms before your operation. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s pre- and post-operative instructions, practice good hygiene, and manage your menstrual symptoms effectively during the recovery phase. With proper preparation and care, you can have a successful surgery and a healthy recovery, regardless of your menstrual cycle.