The Potential Side Effects of a Hysterectomy

Considerations When Deciding If Surgery Is Your Best Option

If your doctor has recommended a hysterectomy, you should consider the side effects that may occur after surgery. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that you and your doctor should discuss your options and alternatives. Hysterectomy is major surgery and it should always be considered carefully, weighing the risks and benefits.

Possible side effects depend on a number of things, including your age, pre-existing health conditions, whether you are still having periods, and the type of hysterectomy that is done. Here is what you might experience.

Effects of Anesthesia

You will receive anesthesia so you will not feel pain during the operation. You may feel moody, tired, or weak for a few days after anesthesia. You also may feel a little sick to your stomach. Your doctor can give you something to help settle your stomach.

Excessive Bleeding

There is always a risk that you might bleed too much during an operation and need a transfusion. Ask your doctor if you should donate some of your own blood before the operation or if someone should give blood for you.

Recovery From Hysterectomy

After the surgery, your physician will tell you how long you should take off from work. The length of time will depend on your health condition and what type of hysterectomy you had. You will need help with routine activities such as child care, shopping, and housework. You won't be able to drive while you are still on narcotic medications for pain, which are often given for two weeks after surgery.

You'll increase your activity gradually day by day and you may be able to resume your normal activities within four to six weeks. The recovery time may be less if the operation was performed vaginally or through the laparoscope.

Menstrual Changes

All types of hysterectomy remove the uterus. If you were still having periods before surgery, they will stop after the operation.

If the surgeon doesn't remove your ovaries, you will continue to have normal, monthly hormonal changes like you did with your periods, but you won't need a tampon or pad because you won't have any menstrual flow. Even though your ovaries remain intact, many women go through menopause a few years earlier than they normally would have.

Symptoms of Surgical Menopause With Double Oophorectomy

Sometimes both ovaries are removed as well as the uterus in a procedure called a hysterectomy with double oophorectomy. After this operation, your body will go through the natural changes of menopause. This is called surgical menopause or induced menopause.

You are likely to experience symptoms similar to regular menopause, which may include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Night sweats
  • Mood swings

Sexual Issues

You shouldn't have intercourse for six weeks after the surgery. Sex might be different for you after hysterectomy. While many women find their sex life improves or stays the same after hysterectomy, some experience decreased desire, a decrease in frequency and intensity of orgasms, and pain during intercourse.

The Boston University School of Medicine reports that of the 1,200 women seen post-hysterectomy, "very few" patients reported sexual dysfunction, but emphasizes this topic requires more research. Some data analysis reveals that women who kept their cervix had no functional loss, but those who underwent cervix removal reported sexual dysfunction. A review published in 2014 found that hysterectomy for benign disease usually had beneficial effects on sexual function, but about 10 to 20 percent of women had deteriorated sexual function. Hysterectomy for a gynecologic malignancy was more often associated with a worsening of sexual function.

Other Side Effects

Studies have shown that for a small number of women, hysterectomy may be followed by one or more of the following problems:

A Word From Verywell

Women have a growing number of options for the type of hysterectomy surgery they can have and alternatives to surgery. Explore this with your doctor so you understand her recommendations for you and what you may expect after surgery.

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