Frequently Asked Questions About Your Body After Hysterectomy

Your Basic Guide to Hysterectomy Recovery and Surgical Menopause

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Each woman who has a hysterectomy may have a unique experience after the surgery, but there are changes in the body that are typical among most women after a hysterectomy.

What Is a Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is most frequently performed to treat fibroids and endometriosis. During this procedure, the surgeon removes your uterus and, if necessary, other parts of your reproductive system. Removing your uterus is typically not the first line of treatment for these conditions. As a result, it is reserved for women who did not respond to more conservative treatment options. Some insurance companies in the United States consider a hysterectomy elective surgery, unless it's performed to treat cancer or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped by any other method, so it is wise to check with your insurance provider.

The Johns Hopkins Breast Center warns that women should always get a second opinion before having an elective hysterectomy.

As a treatment for noncancerous uterine conditions, hysterectomy often improves the quality of life for most women. This is often due to the fact that pain or painful symptoms are generally eliminated by hysterectomy. However, though uncommon, some women feel worse following surgery and regret the decision to have an elective hysterectomy.

What Happens If They Remove My Ovaries Too?

If the surgeon removes your ovaries along with your uterus it's called a hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy. After the procedure, your body goes through what is known as surgical menopause and you may experience hot flashes or other menopause symptoms as if you were going through "the change."

To address those symptoms of surgical menopause, your doctor may recommend estrogen replacement therapy or another type of medication to relieve your symptoms. If you find that the commonly prescribed synthetic hormones cause too many side effects, you may want to ask your healthcare provider about bio-identical or natural hormone replacement. You will typically begin treatment to address the symptoms of hormone loss before you even leave the hospital.

Will a Hysterectomy Affect My Sex Drive?

Are you worried that your sex drive might be less than it was before your hysterectomy or that your partner might not find you as appealing? Talk with other women who have had a hysterectomy because many still enjoy an active and satisfying sex life.

If you do experience a loss of sexual desire or low libido post-hysterectomy, talk openly with your partner and you can also ask your doctor about possible solutions.

Will a Hysterectomy Affect My Mental Health?

Women's experiences after hysterectomy are unique. Some women have an easier time adjusting to the changes their body goes through, while others can experience a host of emotions.

Since hysterectomy ultimately leaves women unable to conceive, the loss can have a profound impact on women who desire to have children conventionally. While surrogacy and adoption are always options, the feelings of loss should not be discounted.

All women may experience some level of depression or feel they have suffered a loss after hysterectomy.

Consider asking your health care professional about joining a support group before or after your surgery or recovery. Talking about your concerns with other women in a similar situation is often helpful.

What If I Still Want to Have Children?

Sometimes doctors can find ways to help you manage your condition if you want to get pregnant before your hysterectomy. However, if you have cancer in your reproductive organs, delaying your surgery might not be possible.

If you're facing a hysterectomy you can't delay, ask your doctor about alternative parenting options such as surrogacy, adoption, or foster parenting. Coping with the fact that you can't have biological children can be very distressing for you and your partner. It's often helpful to talk with a therapist who can help you to cope emotionally.

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