Undergoing a hysterectomy can bring about many physical and emotional challenges. The uterus, or womb, is what makes us uniquely women. The relationship with our uterus can be a powerful one in which we revere it with love and gratitude, and for others it can be very tumultuous. A hysterectomy can be viewed as a loss, while others may view it as freedom.
A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, sometimes the cervix as well as the ovaries due to cancer, bleeding, infection as well as for fibroid tumors, endometriosis or pelvic organ prolapse. 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every year; it is the second most common surgical procedure performed on women. 1 in 3 women will have their uterus removed by the age of 60.
Hormonal changes is one of the most common side effects of a hysterectomy. The ovaries are the main producer of estrogen and other sex hormones, and hysterectomy can reduce the production of these hormones significantly; this can be true even when the ovaries are not removed.
A hysterectomy that removes the uterus, the fallopian tubes, and the ovaries, for example, will result in instant menopause, but the removal of the uterus and cervix only can also decrease hormone levels over time and cause menopausal symptoms.
These symptoms can include mood swings, vaginal dryness and thinning, incontinence, low libido and pain with sex. The extent to which a woman will experience these symptoms varies and depends largely on which organs were removed as well as a person’s lifestyle.
In addition to hormonal changes, women who undergo a hysterectomy are also had a significant increased risk of pelvic organ prolapse, whereby the bladder or rectum can descend or slip into the vaginal vault. Having a preexisting pelvic floor issue prior to surgery is the single greatest risk factor for prolapse and is more common in women who have had multiple children and already have weakened pelvic floor muscles.
Living Well After Hysterectomy
With the right guidance and support, you will not only survive, but thrive following a hysterectomy. Managing scar tissue and constipation as well as reconnecting with your deep core and pelvic floor are essential in your recovery. I empower women to learn about their bowel and bladder health, sexual health as well as supportive nutrition and lifestyle modifications to meet your ultimate goals and live a healthy, full life.