What Happens to Your Body After a Hysterectomy?
Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery among women in the United States, but it isn’t routine, and it’s never approached lightly. If you need to have a hysterectomy, Dr. John Macey in Nashville, Tennessee, takes time to talk, explaining all your options, the surgical procedure, and the changes that may occur in your body following your hysterectomy.
What are the different types of hysterectomies?
To fully envision how your body may change after a hysterectomy, you need to know the different types of surgery. Dr. Macey may recommend one of three types of hysterectomies:
- Partial or supracervical hysterectomy: Upper part of the uterus is removed, while the cervix is left in place
- Total hysterectomy: Entire uterus and cervix are removed
- Radical hysterectomy: Uterus, cervix, and upper part of your vagina are removed
Although a hysterectomy doesn’t include your ovaries or fallopian tubes, they may also be removed depending on the reason for your surgery. When one or both ovaries are removed, the procedure is called an oophorectomy. Removal of your fallopian tubes is called a salpingectomy.
What is the most profound change you will experience?
Being told you may need a hysterectomy is a difficult and deeply emotional experience because it means your menstrual periods stop, and you won’t be able to get pregnant. Dr. Macey only recommends a hysterectomy when all other treatment options have been considered; tried, if possible; and failed to improve your symptoms.
The most common health conditions treated with a hysterectomy -- uterine fibroids, endometriosis, abnormal uterine bleeding, and uterine prolapse -- can often be treated with procedures that preserve your uterus, but it depends on the severity of your problem and your overall health. If you have cervical cancer, uterine cancer, or severe uterine hemorrhage, hysterectomy may be the best choice for your health.
Will you go into premature menopause?
You may have heard that your hormone levels drop after a hysterectomy, but that isn’t accurate. Your uterus, cervix, and vagina aren’t part of your endocrine system, which means there’s no effect on your hormones, if they must be removed.
You can have one ovary removed and, as long as it stays healthy, it produces the hormones you need. It’s different when both ovaries are removed, however. A bilateral oophorectomy (surgical removal of both ovaries) causes an abrupt loss of hormones. As a result, you enter premature menopause.
How does premature menopause affect your body?
You’ll go through the same changes during premature menopause as you would if you entered menopause naturally. The sudden loss of hormones triggers all the classic symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Difficulty urinating or incontinence
- Mood changes
Since estrogen affects tissues throughout your body, system-wide changes take place such as:
- Loss of bone density and increased risk for osteoporosis
- Accelerated skin aging due to dehydration and loss of collagen
- Changes in blood vessels that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease
Although hormone-related changes following an oophorectomy can be difficult and affect your quality of life, it’s important to know that medical therapies and rejuvenation with the advanced MonaLisa Touch® are available to alleviate premature menopause symptoms.
What other changes may occur?
You may encounter information saying that a hysterectomy makes you gain weight or lose your sex drive. These issues may develop, but only if both ovaries are removed. A hysterectomy alone doesn’t affect your weight or desire for sex.
Many women feel healthier because the symptoms they had before surgery are gone. As a result, they become more active and find sex more enjoyable.
You should plan on six to eight weeks to rest and heal, depending on the type of hysterectomy and whether Dr. Macey performs minimally invasive surgery or you need conventional open surgery.
Many women struggle with unexpected emotions following their hysterectomy, so during your recovery, you may feel a sense of loss or struggle with depression. Though there’s no way to predict how you’ll react or feel, please know that Dr. Macey is available, and you should call if you encounter challenges during your recovery.