The Timeline of Recovery After Ovarian Cancer Surgery
Recovery from ovarian cancer varies because the diagnosis and physical impact it has on each patient are not the same. In some patients, recovery can take up to three months, while for others the process can be as quick as four weeks. However, the timeline of recovery is generally similar and most recovering patients should expect this period to last between six and eight weeks.
You may be eager to get back to your regular daily routine, but your body requires healing time before reintroducing actions such as driving, working, performing chores, bathing, exercising, preparing meals and sexual activity. For a smoother recovery, have a supportive community ready to assist you as needed. For example, confirm your method of transportation to and from your follow-up appointments, as these will be frequent post-surgery (decreasing in frequency as recovery continues).
You might also want to consider exploring alternative sexually stimulating activities while you complete recovery and be aware of how to resume sex safely.
Below is a general overview of how recovery might look. Continue to ask your doctor questions about your healing progress and when it’s safe for you to resume specific activities.
Post surgery through week one
The length of time you spend in the hospital immediately post surgery will vary depending on the severity of your surgery. You may have had complications during surgery or you may have had both your ovaries and womb removed. In any case, you should expect to remain in the hospital for at least a week following ovarian cancer surgery.
Whenever you are able, you should begin moving. Doctors like to get patients moving as soon as possible, even while they are in recovery at the hospital. They believe it helps the body heal more quickly, but be patient with yourself as you put forth your best effort to increase your physical mobility.
By week two, you should be at home recuperating. Even if you are feeling better, continue to rest and remain off your feet for extended periods of time. During this time, you may feel ready and excited to get back to your daily activities. However, because the first couple of weeks post ovarian cancer surgery are crucial for a smooth recovery, allow yourself to heal as much as possible.
Weeks three and four
Weeks three and four are normally the periods most patients report feeling better. Specifically, by the third week of recovery, many patients notice obvious physical improvements. If you are not noticing any improvements by the third week, talk with your doctor about specific areas you believe are not healing quickly. Your doctor may be able to suggest exercise, activities or other resources to aid recovery.
Weeks five and six
By weeks five and six, there may still be some fatigue, but in general, you should be able to resume daily activities such as light chores, bathing and swimming. At this point, your doctor will also be making observations about your recovery process to help them determine if you need to begin or resume chemotherapy.
Usually around six weeks post ovarian cancer surgery, you may resume sexual intercourse. Again, check with your doctor first to confirm when it’s safe to resume your normal sexual and daily activities.
Beyond six weeks
Although your post-surgery follow-up appointments will begin to decrease beyond six weeks, attending each visit is imperative. Ovarian cancer may reappear, and during your follow-up visits, your doctor will perform blood tests to check your status and detect any warning signs. You may also use these visits to discuss anything that’s concerning you regarding your body and recovery. You don’t have to wait until your follow-up appointments to note any areas of concern. If you notice anything that concerns you or is affecting your recovery, see your doctor immediately.
Your recovery time will be contingent on various factors and is unique to you. Help make your recovery as smooth as possible by following guidelines from your doctors and applying an appropriate balance of patience and effort.