Wondering what happens to your hormones after hysterectomy? You're not alone - This question is one of the top concerns for women considering a hysterectomy, and for good reasons.
After a hysterectomy, your hormones are affected in many ways. These can be both positive and negative and largely depend on whether or not the ovaries were removed during surgery.
Women who have partial hysterectomies may not experience the same hormone fluctuations as those who undergo a total hysterectomy.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the female reproductive organs. It can be partial or total, and it can include the removal of the ovaries or not. A hysterectomy is a major surgery for most women with many potential risks and complications.
There are different types of hysterectomies:
• Total hysterectomy – removal of the entire uterus and cervix
• Total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
•Partial hysterectomy – removal of the uterus leaving the cervix in place
• Radical hysterectomy – The fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries, upper part of the vagina, and associated pelvic ligaments and lymph nodes are all removed.
What happens to your hormones after hysterectomy?
Your ovaries are where the reproductive hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are made.
If you choose to have a hysterectomy that involves the removal of your ovaries, these hormones will no longer be produced by your body at all.
This results in what is known as surgical menopause and happens almost immediately upon the removal of the ovaries.
Many women who undergo a hysterectomy and keep their ovaries won't notice a significant change in their hormones. This is because their ovaries are still functioning and supplying them with adequate supplies of estrogen and progesterone.
That said, some women do experience menopause symptoms even after leaving their ovaries.
Ovarian dysfunction or atrophy can still happen since the uterus and ovaries share a blood supply, and removing the uterus reduces your ovaries' blood flow.
What is menopause?
Menopause is something every female goes through at some point in their life, and in the natural course of things, is caused by a gradual decrease in reproductive hormones.
When your ovaries are removed, this process is almost instantaneous and causes several different effects on the female body.
The side effects of menopause can be both physical and emotional. Some of the most common physical side effects are:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary problems/incontinence
- Weight gain
- Low libido
Emotional side effects can include:
- Mood swings
- Memory problems/brain fog
Even if you haven't had your ovaries removed during your hysterectomy, you may still experience some degree of menopause symptoms. This may be due to a drop in the amount of hormones produced as a result of less blood flow to the ovaries.
It's essential for women of all ages, regardless of whether they have had a hysterectomy or not, to realize that you can take steps to help offset some of these negative symptoms of menopause.
Staying physically active and eating well on top of getting hormone replacement therapy, if necessary, can go a long way.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms and believe they may be attributed to menopause or ovarian dysfunction, please consult your doctor as soon as possible so they can help find the proper treatment for your individual case.
What is HRT? (Hormone Replacement Therapy)
HRT, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy, can be taken in the form of capsules, skin patches, injections and gels.
These can be either synthetic or bioidentical hormones that work to replace estrogen and progesterone that have been lost due to the removal of your ovaries.
Depending on your needs and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a combination of these hormones or estrogen alone.
For women who have had a total hysterectomy, especially if it involves the removal of their ovaries, HRT can offer relief from your symptoms and help you feel like yourself again.
HRT has long been cited as an integral part of the successful management of menopausal symptoms in women with surgical or natural menopause.
What is the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones?
Both bioidentical hormones and synthetic hormones are created in a laboratory, but the primary distinction is the source of the raw material.
Synthetic hormones are produced using artificial chemicals, whereas bioidentical hormones are derived from plant sources.
While there is no actual research to back up whether bioidentical hormones are safer or more effective, the long list of side effects from synthetic hormones may make you want to choose wisely between the two.
The side effects of synthetic hormones can be quite severe and range from mild to life-threatening. Some of the most common side effects are:
- Blood clots
- Breast tenderness
- Fluid retention
- Gall stones
- High blood pressure
- Impaired glucose tolerance
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of endometrial cancer and breast cancer
- Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Leg cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vaginal bleeding
- Worsened uterine fibroids and endometriosis.
These are just a few of the potential side effects, and it's important to consult with your doctor to see if synthetic hormones are right for you.
Bioidentical hormones are designed to be molecularly identical to the natural human body's hormones.
Because of this, many claim that they have a higher success rate in terms of treatment for symptoms.
Some of the side effects of bioidentical hormones include:
- Weight gain
- Blurred vision
- Increased facial hair (women)
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
Of course, no matter what hormone replacement therapy a woman is taking, you should always consult your doctor before starting.
Some women cannot take any form of hormone replacement therapy, and the options need to be carefully considered.
A hysterectomy is a major surgery for women to go through, and it can be very impactful on their hormone levels.
It's important to discuss the implications of a hysterectomy beforehand and be prepared for what may happen afterwards.
After a hysterectomy, many women experience negative symptoms of menopause due to the loss of estrogen and progesterone. The good news is there are many options to help you deal with them.
Hormone replacement therapy can be vital for these women to offset some of these symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe different types of HRT, synthetic or bioidentical, based on your individual needs.
If you have had a hysterectomy and wish to take hormone replacement therapy, it's essential to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of each type.
Be prepared for potential adverse side effects, but don't let them deter you from getting your symptoms treated.