Have you recently had a hysterectomy and are now concerned about gaining weight? Unfortunately, you have every reason to be worried. Weight gain is a common post-op side effect of this procedure, particularly during the first year.
In addition, two scenarios make this more likely.
Women who have a history of obesity or being overweight are particularly likely to gain weight after surgery.
And premenopausal women who have a radical hysterectomy are even more likely to gain weight. This is because removing their uterus, ovaries, and cervix triggers surgical menopause.
Women who naturally go into menopause typically gain around five pounds. So it’s to be expected that if a hysterectomy triggers surgical menopause, you’ll gain about five pounds.
To help answer the question about “Is weight gain associated with hysterectomy?” we’ll look at the reasons behind the “yes, probably.”
What Causes Weight Gain After a Hysterectomy?
No matter which type of hysterectomy you have, you’ll have a post-op recovery period during which you need to rest so that your body can heal. If you had a regular exercise routine or were very active before surgery, this recovery time may cause you to pack on some pounds. The recovery period, and recommendations on rest and activity can vary based on the type of hysterectomy you have. For example:
Abdominal hysterectomy: You’ll spend the first 2-3 days at the hospital, but complete recovery takes six to eight weeks.
Vaginal or laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH): Because a vaginal hysterectomy is less invasive than an abdominal procedure, you’ll only be in the hospital for 1-2 days, and recovery can be as short as two weeks.
Laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy (LSH): LSH is the least surgically invasive procedure and can have a recovery period as short as six days and up to two weeks.
The recovery period isn’t necessarily a time to worry about your weight. Instead, focus on feeling better and making healthy choices.
After recovery, you may be able to lose the extra pounds. But some women can have trouble losing post-op weight and even continue to gain weight. Unfortunately, weight gain after a hysterectomy can occur without you making any significant changes in lifestyle or habits.
Why is that?
Removal of your uterus can cause changes in your hormone production. If you also have your ovaries removed, you’ll experience hormone production changes, particularly estrogen. When your hormone levels shift and cause a hormone imbalance, you may experience a buffet of symptoms. Three of these symptoms can lead to a fourth symptom, weight gain.
Let’s Look At That Fact a Bit More
Think of weight gain as a combo plate that you order from a restaurant. A combo plate takes some of your favorite foods from a longer list and puts them all on the same plate. The difference is that the combo plate called weight gain doesn’t come with a chalupa, taco, and enchilada. Instead, it comes with sleep issues, low energy, and decreased metabolism. This trio of symptoms makes it much more challenging to maintain your target weight or lose weight and makes weight gain the order of the day.
When estrogen levels drop, falling asleep becomes more challenging. Likewise, when progesterone levels are erratic, you’re likely to be awakened by hot flashes and night sweats.
A loss of estrogen causes low energy, amplified by lack of sleep. Feeling sluggish and low make you want to exercise less.
Poor sleep and low energy levels can lead to a slowing of the metabolic processes. Your body won’t burn as much energy if your metabolism slows down. Instead, it will turn that energy into fat and store it around your waistline.
Unfortunately, when you gain weight after a hysterectomy, it’s not just your waistline that gets fat. Fat also accumulates around your internal organs. And internal fat puts you at risk for heart disease and diabetes.
How Can I Avoid Weight Gain After a Hysterectomy?
Now that you know why women gain weight after a hysterectomy, you can do something about it before it becomes a problem. Here are three things you can do to prevent weight gain after a hysterectomy.
1 Diet and Exercise
Eating well and exercising regularly can help avoid weight gain after a hysterectomy. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is an excellent place to start. Exercising for 75-150 minutes per week (depending on your exercise choice) is also a wonderful habit.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a great way to rebalance hormone levels. You may have noticed the link between low estrogen levels and weight gain. BHRT can increase your estrogen levels and take the Weight Gain Combo Plate off the menu.
3 Reduce Stress
Chronic stress can affect your hormone levels and leave you with severe munchies. Dropping unnecessary tasks and prioritizing what matters most to you is an excellent first step toward stress reduction. Adding stress reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and enjoyable activities to your daily routine can also help reduce chronic stress.
Not Enough to Have an Effect?
When it comes to losing weight, sometimes doing the basics by yourself isn’t enough – especially after a major surgery like a hysterectomy that affects your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Having a carefully formulated post-op plan can help keep you on track with your weight after a hysterectomy.
And don’t worry. There’s still hope if you’ve already had surgery and weight is already a concern.
At Nava, we understand the complexity of issues affecting women post-hysterectomy. Therefore, we do not focus on treating symptoms. Instead, we use a sophisticated diagnostic approach to identify the root cause of the problems. We then develop a personalized plan to get you back to feeling like you but at 100%.
The Nava Method: The Nava 5
The NAVA Method is the perfect approach to managing or losing weight after a hysterectomy because The NAVA 5 addresses:
- Hormone Balance & Sexual Health
- Stress Management & Life Balance
- Healthy Weight & Digestion
- Inflammation Control
- Restorative Sleep
NAVA medical practitioners will customize an evidence-based vitality plan to address any imbalances and the root cause of your symptoms.
You’ll have a roadmap and all the support you need to manage your weight and live your life at 100%. Schedule an appointment today!