Having a hysterectomy is life-changing. Some women have time to do research before having a hysterectomy, which accounts for many online searches such as “weight loss after hysterectomy and ovary removal”
Others, however, are forced by their medical situation to jump into the procedure without much mental, emotional, or physical preparation. However, any rapid loss of weight after their procedure would also prompt such questions.
But no matter how much information you gather before or after, there’s really no way to know how a hysterectomy will affect your body or how you’re going to feel afterward.
Hysterectomy: a Quick Look in General
A hysterectomy is an invasive surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus and possibly the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Doctors use this relatively common procedure as a last resort to treat conditions among American women between 40 and 50 years old.
Hysterectomies treat health problems that affect the female reproductive system like
- heavy periods
- long-term pelvic pain
- non-cancerous tumors (fibroids)
- ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer or cancer of the fallopian tubes
No matter what your age, you’ll no longer menstruate or be able to get pregnant after a hysterectomy.
The type of hysterectomy you have depends on why you need the operation and how much of your uterus and the surrounding area needs to be removed. The main types of hysterectomy are
- total hysterectomy,
- partial hysterectomy,
- radical hysterectomy, and
- total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
Ovary removal may happen in a couple of these, according to what’s necessary medically.
There are three hysterectomy procedures:
- laparoscopic hysterectomy, which only requires several small cuts in the stomach area.
- vaginal hysterectomy, which requires a cut in the top of the vagina
- abdominal hysterectomy, which requires a larger cut in the lower abdomen.
The recovery period and post-op effects are different for each type of hysterectomy, each procedure and each individual circumstance.
So what about weight gain or loss after a hysterectomy?
Weight Gain or Weight Loss After Hysterectomy
Many women know about the possibility of weight gain after a hysterectomy. It’s more common than weight loss for three reasons:
1 If you have a hysterectomy with ovary removal, then your ovaries are gone. Once your ovaries are gone, so are the sex hormones they were producing. No sex hormones mean a sudden onslaught of menopausal symptoms, including the possibility of weight gain.
2 Women who struggled with weight loss prior to hysterectomy may find that removing the uterus alleviates nausea and increases their appetite.
3 Women who had an active lifestyle before surgery may gain weight afterward, especially if the procedure took place as an abdominal surgery rather than a vaginal hysterectomy.
Weight Loss after Hysterectomy and Ovary removal
Most women don’t anticipate the possibility of weight loss after hysterectomy and ovary removal – or even weight loss after a hysterectomy keeping ovaries intact.
If you’re therefore experiencing weight loss after a hysterectomy, there are two things you need to know upfront:
- Weight loss is not a side effect of a hysterectomy – or even hysterectomy with ovary removal.
- Rapid weight loss after a hysterectomy may be a red flag for an underlying condition that requires medical care.
One of the possible causes of weight loss after a hysterectomy possibly links to the reason for the hysterectomy itself.
Hysterectomy as a Cancer Treatment
Hysterectomy is a standard treatment option for several kinds of cancer, including:
Women who have these types of cancer may experience weight loss because of how the disease affects their bodies.
In addition, many women who choose to get a hysterectomy as part of their cancer treatment plan are also on chemotherapy. Unfortunately, chemotherapy has side effects of nausea and loss of appetite.
For that reason, if chemotherapy was already part of your treatment plan before the hysterectomy, you may have already experienced these side effects and lost weight.
If you start chemotherapy in conjunction with having the hysterectomy, then you may start to lose weight, not because of the hysterectomy but because of the side effects of the chemotherapy.
Hysterectomy as a Treatment for Pain
Physicians also perform hysterectomies to help reduce chronic pain and heavy bleeding caused by fibroids, endometriosis, and other conditions. It generally takes 4-6 weeks to recover from most types of hysterectomy, but once your body has healed, the pain and heavy bleeding should resolve themselves.
At this point, you may notice a significant difference in your energy because you’re no longer dragged down by chronic pain and iron-poor blood. As a result, you may become more physically active, which can lead to weight loss. For many women, this type of weight loss isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It might even be what they needed!
Post-Surgery Side Effects As a Cause of Weight Loss After Hysterectomy
Sometimes, weight loss after hysterectomy can be a temporary result of post-surgery side effects, including the side effects associated with anesthesia and with pain and discomfort while you’re healing.
Side effects of anesthesia
Anesthesia is used during a hysterectomy to curtail the pain of the procedure. However, the side effects of anesthesia can include a few days of nausea. If this is the case for you, you may have trouble keeping food down. This can result in weight loss, but it should only be temporary.
Pain and discomfort during recovery
Hysterectomy is invasive, especially if it’s included ovary removal. As a result, it requires downtime and will cause residual pain and discomfort. The severity and duration of the pain depend on what kind of hysterectomy or procedure you get and the state of your overall health. Generally speaking, it can take up to 3 months for the pain to be completely gone.
If you’ve ever experienced consistent pain or discomfort, then you know that it can affect your appetite, causing you to eat less. It can also make you sick to your stomach and make it difficult to keep food down. Both of these side effects can cause weight loss after hysterectomy with or without ovary removal.
If you’re unable to eat or are constantly vomiting, you should consult with your doctor. Throwing up can cause you more pain and affect the healing process. In addition, if you’re unable to eat, your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to heal.
If you’ve had a hysterectomy and ovary removal (or any other form of hysterectomy) and are losing weight, don’t worry. This is fairly common. But if you were already underweight before the procedure or experience rapid weight loss after your hysterectomy, you should contact us today.