Taking Pain Medication After Surgery

After surgery, you may be issued a prescription for pain medication. Pain medication is not always necessary. Most women will need some sort of pain medication, if only for a few days. Your need for pain medication will be determined before you leave the hospital.

Over-the-Counter Ibuprofen

Even if you are given a prescription, you should take over-the-counter ibuprofen. If you are unable to take ibuprofen due to allergies or other health issues, talk to your doctor. Ibuprofen is safe for most women to take. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and will help reduce swelling. It will also help relieve pain without causing constipation. Constipation is a common side effect of prescription pain medications.

Prescription Pain Medication and Stool Softener

If you are taking prescription pain medication, you should also use a stool softener. Colace (a common stool softener) is available over-the-counter, without a prescription.

Staggering Medications

When taking prescription pain medication (such as Norco, Percocet, or Tylenol with Codeine), you should also take Ibuprofen. Typically, your instructions for prescription pain medication will state “take 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed.” If you are able to do so, we would suggest taking your prescription pain medication every 6 hours. You should also take 600mg of Ibuprofen every six hours. When using prescription pain medication and Ibuprofen, we suggest that you stagger the two medications.

For example: Take your prescription pain medication, then wait three hours and take your ibuprofen. In another three hours, you can repeat the prescription pain medication (it will have been six hours from your original dose).

Alternating your medications like this will give you better pain management without having to take as much prescription pain medication, thereby limiting the number of side effects (like constipation) that you may experience.

Decrease the dose of prescription pain medication and then stop it altogether as soon as possible after surgery.

Prepare Before Surgery

Before you have your surgery, it would be appropriate to pick up the following items at your drugstore so you will have them on hand when needed:

  • A bottle of Colace Stool Softener
  • A bottle of ibuprofen 200mg (tablets or capsules)
Quick Facts
  • Not always needed

  • Alternate your doses

  • Stop as soon as possible

OB/GYN Doctors