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Are There Any Side Effects of a Hysterectomy?

It's a logical and frequently asked question - are there any hysterectomy side effects?

Absolutely!

Hysterectomy is defined as the surgical removal of the vital organ called the uterus. Most hysterectomies are performed on women between the ages of 20 and 49. In the United States, the rate of hysterectomy is higher among African-American women and is higher in the Southern states. There are 600,000 hysterectomies performed in the United States every year.

There are two types of hysterectomy, the partial hysterectomy and the total hysterectomy. In a partial hysterectomy, the uterus is removed and the ovaries are left in place. In most cases, because the circulation of blood to the ovaries is diminished, the ovarian function will cease all together, although it’s unknown why this happens. In a total hysterectomy or "surgical menopause", the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed which results in the interruption of the ovarian hormone production.

After the surgical procedure called hysterectomy, since hormone production has been altered, a woman may experience one or more of the following side effects:

• Anxiety
• Depression, mood swings
• Dizziness and nervousness
• Fatigue
• Hair loss
• Headaches
• Heart palpitations
• Insomnia
• Irritability
• Joint pain
• Low sex drive, painful sexual intercourse
• Memory lapses
• Unexplained weight gain
• Urinary incontinence
• Vaginal dryness

Women who have had a hysterectomy are at increased risk for developing heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.

There are medical conditions for which hysterectomy may be needed, especially if malignant cancer is involved. However, many hysterectomies are used to remove fibroids and to treat other related conditions. For these kinds of conditions, hysterectomy may be not needed, but women may not know of effective less radical and alternative treatments that should be considered and discussed with their physician. And women are frequently mistakenly afraid of developing cancer if a hysterectomy is not performed and may decide to have the procedure, according to a study as reported by the Reuters News Agency.

When a woman undergoes a hysterectomy, she goes into surgically induced menopause that results in the condition called "hormone imbalance", even if the ovaries are left intact. Even with the ovaries not removed, the blood supply to the ovaries lessens after the surgery and the ovaries usually cease functioning within 1-3 years.

The body needs hormones to function properly. And for a woman -- progesterone, testosterone and estrogen are vital. How and when does a woman’s body produce progesterone? It’s produced in the regular menstrual cycle when ovulation occurs. No ovulation, no progesterone!

After a hysterectomy, women will experience a deficiency of two critical hormones –- progesterone and testosterone. If only the uterus is removed in a partial hysterectomy, progesterone levels will fall dramatically in one to two months and estrogen levels will decrease in one or two years. Progesterone deficiency is related to numerous side effects including the side effects of a hysterectomy listed above. Progesterone deficiency is related to increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancer, including endometrial cancer. Testosterone deficiency in women causes low sex drive, low energy levels, thyroid deficiency and depression, for which there is no clear medical explanation.

Women who enter menopause as a result of hysterectomy should monitor their estrogen (estridiol), progesterone and testosterone levels -- and natural estrogen alone should not be taken without natural progesterone. Hormone levels are easily and accurately measured with the saliva test, which will indicate the levels of the critical hormones in the body. Since a hysterectomy creates a deficiency of vital hormones in the woman’s body, hormone replacement therapy should be considered. However, using synthetic hormones comes with additional risks and side effects.

Instead, women considering hysterectomy or already having had the procedure should seek the help of physicians trained in the use of natural bio-identical hormones. Bio-identical hormones are hormones that are identical to what the body makes and what normally would exist in the body. Synthetic drugs such as Premarin, Provera and Prempro are not natural nor the same as the body makes, and these kinds of synthetic drugs have numerous side effects. Naturopathic physicians, alternative medicine and holistic physicians are educated and trained in both conventional medicine and the use of bio-identical hormones, including bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.

Hysterectomy is a permanent, irreversible surgery that will likely result in unwanted side effects. Unless malignant cancer or other life-threatening condition exists, instead of hysterectomy, consider natural bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to treat fibroids, endometriosis and other conditions related to hormone imbalance. Read all you can and learn more about what to expect after a hysterectomy and effective alternative treatments that may be better for your health.

Copyright 2005 InfoSearch Publishing

If you or someone you know has had a hysterectomy, visit Hysterectomy Recovery to learn more about what to expect after a hysterectomy and related health issues. Olinda Rola is President of InfoSearch Publishing and webmaster of http://www.safemenopausesolutions.com - a website of physician-recommended natural solutions for a variety of women's health problems.

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