Now what? How do you exercise? How will recovery be? What about menopause? Whether you’re considering a hysterectomy or have had one, you probably have a lot of questions. Fortunately, we have a lot of answers.
What is it?
First, a hysterectomy is the complete removal of your uterus, and typically your fallopian tubes and ovaries as well. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it’s also the second most common surgery among women in the United States, with a cesarean-section birth coming in first. Women who have endometriosis, uterine cancer, adenomyosis, chronic pelvic pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding may have a hysterectomy to relieve their symptoms. Some women also pursue it as a more permanent version of birth control.
But did you know about some of the side effects? While they aren’t completely understood, a definite change in hormone levels should be expected that will mimic menopause. Hormone replacement therapy may be an option for you, depending on the factors surrounding your surgery. Here is a short list of other side effects that women have reported experiencing following their surgery:
- It affects your sex life. Sex becoming painful following a hysterectomy is rare, but can happen due to nerve damage. Other women have reported a lower sex drive, which is understandable due to lowered hormone levels. However, a study reported on by the New York Times revealed that other women experienced an increase in their sex life.
- You may gain weight. While this may seem like a nightmare, understand that it’s still important to exercise and eat right. A little weight gain is normal, but it can easily be a gateway to a larger problem with obesity. After getting clearance from your doctor, you may continue exercising following your hysterectomy. Ease back into it.
Walking is a simple exercise that will help you build your strength back following the surgery. A small distance at a relatively slow pace is the perfect way to ease back into fitness. Low-impact exercises such as light yoga or small hand weights will slowly build back your muscles and circulation without compromising the surgery site. If you aren’t quite sure which activities are best for you, consult with your doctor.
- Other symptoms may mimic menopause symptoms: hot flashes, fatigue, irritability, mood swings. It’s also been found that women who have had hysterectomies are at a higher risk for developing heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
If it’s so much like menopause, how will menopause be affected? If you had a partial hysterectomy or your ovaries were left intact, you will experience menopause naturally. However, a study by Duke University has recently shown that your hysterectomy may affect the onset of menopause. If your ovaries were removed, however, your doctor may need to have a blood test to determine when menopause is actually occurring. You will likely still experience normal menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
So what, exactly, does recovery look like? Most likely, you will remain in the hospital following the procedure for a few days. Recovery time outside of the hospital depends on what type of hysterectomy you’ve had, but is usually between six to eight weeks.
As always, questions and concerns should be directed to your doctor before any decisions are made. For more information, call or stop by our offices!