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What Happens to the Body After a Hysterectomy?

A woman undergoing a hysterectomy will go under general anesthesia.
Women entering menopause may experience hot flashes.
Women can experience sudden hair loss after a hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy involves removing a woman's uterus through a surgical procedure.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
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  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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A woman may have a hysterectomy after deciding that she is done bearing children, does not want them in the first place, or has a medical reason to have her uterus removed. Like any other type of surgery, the body goes through many changes directly after a hysterectomy. There are some positive and negative side effects, usually depending on the reason for the surgery in the first place. Many women find that they enter surgical menopause, which means that this stage of life comes right after the procedure instead of naturally later in life. On the other hand, women whose painful reproductive problems forced them to have this surgery might find some relief.

This type of surgery may involve just removing the uterus, although a total hysterectomy involves the removal of the ovaries as well. Women who have a total hysterectomy will enter menopause, but women who keep their ovaries usually don't, though their periods do stop. This side effect is caused by a drop in the amount of female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, in the body, since they are produced primarily in the ovaries. Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is available to reduce the effects, usually through a pill or patch.

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Women experiencing early menopause frequently notice a change in their appearance after a hysterectomy, such as weight gain or sudden hair loss. Many also have hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, and vaginal dryness, as well. Often, psychological changes also occur, from decreased sex drive and depression to anxiety and memory loss. In general, any side effects that usually occur during menopause can be expected following a hysterectomy, especially in younger women who have not yet gone through this stage on their own.

Some women have to get a hysterectomy in order to eliminate issues caused by their uterus. This may include cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, such as uncontrollable bleeding. On the other hand, some women opt for the surgery to prevent painful menstrual periods. In either case, they may feel relieved that the issue is now gone, but sad that they had to resort to major surgery that renders them unable to have children. They will still likely be pushed into menopause, but the good news is that they should feel some physical relief once source of the pain or discomfort is gone.

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bgahm01
Post 19

I was 17 when my only child was born by C-section after 47 hours of hard labor, and I was unmarried, poor and on medicaid in 1991.

The years that followed were painful to say the least. At age 23, after trying few other options "that Medicaid would allow" my doctor said I needed a total hysterectomy and because of pain I agreed.

I am 40 years old now with some medical issues that old ladies have. My first three bladder surgeries were right after my TAH for repairs, my fourth was one year ago for pain and urination issues. Seven years ago, stones grew in my bladder, I didn't know that could happen. I have osteoporosis with a very small body type, Interstitial cystitis, colon issues, high cholesterol, mood changes, menopause for the first ten years and then some.

Through everything I am still poor but hold a job which is very difficult at times. I guess I need answers as to why this happened to me. I have never really been told. I have asked but with so many years gone and medicaid doctors involved, I don't seem to get any straight answers. I have been able to get some records that do not explain much -- just that I had Endometriosis at the time surgery.

The sudden and drastic change so young in my body has forever changed my direction in life. I wish, I could have seen into the future, I would have said no, if it had been my choice.

anon924195
Post 18

What can we do to have babies after hysterectomy surgery, since the fallopian tubes are there and the ovaries are there producing eggs. Please tell me this for security reasons.

anon350173
Post 17

This article fails to mention the anatomical and skeletal effects of hysterectomy. The severing of the four sets of uterine/pelvic ligaments compromises pelvic integrity. This results in spine compression and widening of hip bones leading to back problems as well as a compressed midsection and protruding belly.

The shifting of organs can lead to bladder and bowel problems.

Severing of nerves and blood vessels can cause loss of sensation and sexual function. Women who had uterine orgasms can no longer experience those.

Even when the ovaries are preserved, loss of blood flow and disruption of the feedback loop between the uterus and ovaries can cause the ovaries to fail (about a 40 percent risk). Intact women's ovaries produce hormones into their 80s.

anon342256
Post 16

There is an operation you can have that will stop you from bleeding ever month but still release an egg every month so there's no need for hormone replacement therapy. They burn the lining of your uterus. It is pretty much painless. I would try this before I had a hysterectomy.

anon326633
Post 15

I am 27, have been married for eight years, and my husband and I don't want any children. We never have wanted any. I very much dislike my period, but my birth control pills help control it and ease the pain. But I'm terrified that birth control pills will fail and we'll eventually end up with a baby we don't want. It makes sex stressful when I'm constantly afraid that this might be the time the pills fail.

I want my tubes tied, but that wouldn't stop my period. Why suffer through the monthly pain for a child that I don't want and at that point can't have? So I'd prefer a hysterectomy. It has the added bonus of future planning, that is, if we plan a once-in-a-lifetime vacation halfway around the world, we could plan it a long time in advance. I would hate to plan something like that for months, then show up for my one week in paradise and have my period. This very thing has happened to me before and it will happen again if my periods are allowed to continue.

I'm afraid that any doctor I speak to about it will think I will "change my mind" about children (in which case I'd prefer to adopt anyways-- why bring a child into an already overcrowded world when there are thousands of children already here who need homes?) and so they would refuse an operation. I know that I'm young, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid or that I don't know what I want in my own future. It's frustrating.

Does anyone know of younger women who have had hysterectomies? Did they end up regretting it? Did the relief of no possible birth control failure and no more periods outweigh the slight possibility of not being able to have children in the future, excluding adoption? Keep in mind here that I have preferred the idea of adoption over birth since I was a young girl and have not changed my mind on this issue for over a decade, and keeping in mind that seeing and holding other peoples' children, even my own nieces and nephews in the hospital at their births, does not stir any sort of maternal instinct or longing. Do you think it is unreasonable for a woman under 30 years old to wish for a hysterectomy?

anon325445
Post 14

I am 23 years old and I have 3 girls. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 19, after the birth of my youngest. It was said that I had complications with bleeding while getting the placenta to come out. The delivery went without complications, and they decided to try and extract my placenta manually instead of waiting for it. Next thing I know, we are going to the operating room. In my honest opinion the doctors decided to do so because I already had three at such an early age.

Many doctors are surprised that I have had one but most make comments along the lines of "well at least you have had children" or "you don't need any more." It hurts to know I won't have kids, but it hurts even more knowing that someone would decide that for me. It really is horrible!

anon315337
Post 12

I am 36 years old, with 2 lovely kids, and I am scheduled to have partial hysterectomy in a week due to (fibroid) irregular heavy and painful periods. The worst part of it is that I don't have any other choice because I have a long history of blood clots. I want my pains to go away but I don't know how I will feel after surgery.

anon291799
Post 11

I had to have a radical hysterectomy (everything out, including ovaries) about 10 months ago due to endometrial cancer. Because of the cancer risk, I can't take estrogen, so HRT is out of the question. Consequently, my skin is drier, my hair is a lot thinner (I can see my scalp through my hair) and it is very difficult to lose weight.

So I had no choice regarding my hysterectomy. Having said that, the operation was not nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be, I was in very good hands. And thankfully, my cancer was the lowest grade and stage possible, so no further treatment was necessary.

Despite the negative after effects, I do feel much better for having had the operation. However, I'd like my hair back!

anon262967
Post 10

I am a poor woman in FL who is approaching 50 and had my tubes tied after my last child was born 20 years ago, except now for the past three years or more I have had unbearable chronic pelvic pain.

Because my tubes are tied, no county health services are available to me. I have gone to planned parenthood and been tested for every gynecological disease and std under the sun and have none, yet cannot sit or stand, or even have sex due to debilitating, chronic, sharp pelvic pain.

If anyone knows where I can get a hysterectomy performed, I sure would like one just to relieve the pain.

bagley79
Post 9

After a few years of spotty bleeding, my friend decided to go ahead with a hysterectomy. This was several years ago when they seemed to perform them more often than they do today.

Her doctor also told her that by keeping her uterus and continuing with the bleeding she was more apt to develop cancer than if she went ahead with the hysterectomy.

My mom was told just the opposite when she was having this type of bleeding. Her doctor told her that after she was done with menopause, the bleeding would stop and unless it caused her a lot of problems did not recommend a hysterectomy. She never did have the surgery and no longer has any bleeding.

I guess it comes down to each individual persons medical reasons and working closely with your doctor. I also think that it never hurts to get a second opinion before making such a big decision as having a hysterectomy.

golf07
Post 8

I would look at having a hysterectomy as a last resort to any problems I was having. Of course, if there was a real threat of cancer or something terminal, it would be a much easier decision to make.

I think it is much better for your body to naturally go through the changes of menopause rather than force it to start abruptly because of surgery.

This might be easy for me to say because I have never had very bad or long monthly cycles. Some friends I know really struggle every month with this, while mine is just more of an annoyance. I would rather deal with what I know and as things come, than have a hysterectomy and force my body to do through this change so quickly.

andee
Post 7

I have several friends who have had a hysterectomy before they would have naturally gone through menopause.

Although this was not an easy decision for any of them to make, once the surgery was over and they had recovered, they were glad they went ahead with it.

They don't have to worry about their monthly cycles anymore, but more than that, no longer have the pain and/or bleeding that led up to the surgery in the first place.

OeKc05
Post 6

I had a total hysterectomy at the age of 40. My ovaries had cysts on them, and though they were benign, they caused me a great deal of pain. My pelvic area and lower abdomen hurt immensely during my period. I knew that I did not want to have children at that age, so I figured that surgery was the best option.

I have been taking estrogen to avoid losing my femininity. I have a horror of what happens to older women when it becomes hard to distinguish their faces from those of older men. I know I may not be able to take estrogen forever, but I’m not ready to let go of my womanhood yet.

Oceana
Post 5

While seriously considering hormone replacement therapy after her hysterectomy, my mother discovered that the typically prescribed combination of estrogen and progestin can increase the risk of some serious conditions. She read about a clinical study that found that this form of HRT raises the chances of a woman developing heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots.

However, she found out that since her uterus had been removed, she could take estrogen alone. Though a person going through natural menopause would be at risk for uterine cancer if taking pure estrogen, obviously my mother wouldn’t have to worry about that.

StarJo
Post 4

My friend’s mom had a hysterectomy because her periods were debilitating. She missed two days of work each month because the cramps were so severe, and her flow was so heavy that she had to change tampons once an hour.

Since her boss was female, she was very understanding about the missed days. When she took a leave of absence for her surgery, her boss told her to take all the time she needed for emotional recovery.

After the hysterectomy, she started having hot flashes. She grew some facial hair, and her face took on more of a masculine appearance. She started to look old. However, she said that the relief from her horrible periods far outweighed the consequences.

kylee07drg
Post 3

After giving birth to her fifth child at age 35, my friend had a hysterectomy. She would have just had her tubes tied, but the doctors found what they believed to be cancer on her uterus.

She became extremely depressed. I didn’t hear from her for months after her surgery. She didn’t want to talk to anyone. She had always placed her value as a person in her ability to have children and be a good mother. Now, that was taken away from her.

Eventually, her husband got her to focus on their newborn and place her joy in him. She distracted herself from a barren future by throwing all her energy into raising her new baby.

KaBoom
Post 2

@starrynight - One of my friends told me that her great-grandmother had a hysterectomy for some really ridiculous reason. Apparently her doctor talked her into it, but now days she probably wouldn't even be offered a hysterectomy. Oh, and, you guessed it, she was a poor woman with a lot of children!

Seriously though, a hysterectomy sounds like it would be life changing. Imagine having to get a hysterectomy for cancer or something like that? You could potentially got through menopause in your twenties! I hope women in that kind of situation are urged to get counseling because I think they probably need it.

starrynight
Post 1

The decision to get a hysterectomy definitely shouldn't be taken lightly. It sounds like serious emotional changes occur afterward that the patient really needs to be prepared for.

I actually read somewhere that doctors used to do hysterectomies a lot more than they are done today. In less enlightened times, doctors would just do them to poor or "lower class" women who had a lot of children at some point after they gave birth and make up a reason.

Obviously this doesn't happen anymore, but I feel really badly for those women. It's one thing to get a hysterectomy when you're prepared, but to just wake up from having a c-section or something and hear "by the way, we took out your uterus too"? Horrible!

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