Commonly asked questions
Should I expect any pain or discomfort after my treatment and how long will it last?
Depending on what treatment you have had, a varying amount of pain or discomfort may continue for several weeks afterwards as the healing process continues and scarring continues to heal. This should lessen as time progresses. However, it is not unusual to still report some discomfort several months after an abdominal operation.
Also, after an operation, people often get aches and pains in places they did not expect to, such as the back, neck, hips and legs can all be very sore. The staff in the operating theatre take great care of you when you are asleep and try to move you into the positions they need you to be in very gently. However, because your muscles are very relaxed as a result of the anaesthetic, sometimes muscles can ache for several days after your surgery. Take it easy, take the pain relief you were given in hospital and your aches should resolve over a few days.
With methotrexate treatment, many report feeling intense fatigue and it is important to rest.
I am experiencing abdominal pain several weeks/months after an ectopic pregnancy. Is this normal?
Following an ectopic pregnancy, it is not unusual to feel pain and discomfort in the abdomen for some time after your treatment. Awareness of such feelings can also be heightened as a result of the experience of losing a pregnancy and because of the frightening and distressing experience you had to go through. There are a number of reasons why you may be aware of the aches in your abdominal area:
- It could be that your normal cycle is trying to resume and the pain you are experiencing may be due to your body preparing to ovulate, or your period might be about to arrive
- It could be that your awareness of your menstrual cycle and your ovulation have been heightened. Many women report that they are aware of ovulation pain after an ectopic, when they never experienced it before
- It might simply be down to heightened perception and awareness because of the experience you have been through
There is no clinical evidence that adhesions (scar tissue) directly cause pain. However, some people do link discomfort to scar tissue even though this is anecdotal and not scientific. In addition, there is no evidence that shows that surgery to divide adhesions is helpful.
Do I need to keep a pain diary?
Pain is unique to the individual and if it is persistent and is becoming worrying, we would suggest that you keep a pain diary. Record in your diary when your period starts, when the pain is experienced and how the pain would be scored on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being no pain, 10 being pain requiring a trip to hospital). Keep a record of what helps the pain, for example, heat (hot water bottle), exercise, rest, pain relievers (make a note of what kind e.g., paracetamol). After about eight weeks, make an appointment to go see your doctor to discuss the diary records you have been keeping.
Keeping this diary enables you to go to your doctor with dates, times and evidence of how it is affecting you. This can be very helpful to medical practitioners when deciding upon how to manage the symptoms.
How can I tell if the pain I have means there is something wrong?
Pain is most usually the body’s way of telling you to rest. Whether you were treated with a major abdominal operation or a keyhole procedure, some pain is normal and you should expect to take things very easily for the first week or two after keyhole surgery and for around six weeks after the major abdominal operation.
Many hospitals discharge their patients with some kind of pain relief. If yours did not, then take over the counter pain remedies, a pharmacist can advise you and these are usually sufficient to help you through the first few days. Pain is, however, unique to everyone and if your pain is severe and not responding to over-the-counter pain relief then call your doctor or the NHS 111 Service or NHS GP at Hand for advice.
If your pain is associated with other symptoms, you may also need to consult with a doctor. Any of the following signs might suggest the pain you have needs further medical assessment:
- a rise in your normal body temperature greater than 37° C (98.6° F);
- increased vaginal discharge that smells offensive;
- raised lumps and bumps over the puncture sites or scar that are redder and hotter to touch than the rest of the surrounding skin;
- wound site which is not only weeping but appears to be oozing thick, creamy or white discharge.