Having a hysterectomy can be a trying physical and emotional experience, but it doesn’t have to be the end of control over your life. Women looking at the certainty of having a hysterectomy usually have many unanswered questions about hysterectomy and hormone changes. The result is that they also have unnecessary and incapacitating fears.
In addition, one of the most common of these unasked questions is: “Will having a hysterectomy change my hormones?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes – but don’t fret! How much your hormones change will depend on what kind of hysterectomy is performed. We’ll look into that in detail in this article.
However, just like women who’re going through menopause, you have options that will help keep your hormones at optimal levels. We’ll discuss those too.
What Kind of Hormone Changes Can I Expect After My Hysterectomy?
The first thing you need to be clear on is what kind of hysterectomy your surgeon will be performing. Not all hysterectomies are the same. The amount of tissue and organs your surgeon removes depends on why your doctor has recommended a hysterectomy.
The second thing is this. Recommending a hysterectomy is not something your doctor does lightly. Removing your uterus is rarely the first option. In fact, most women who’ve had hysterectomies tried many other things before they had the surgery.
Reasons for having a hysterectomy
The following conditions often cause a doctor to recommend hysterectomy:
- Uterine fibroids
- Heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding
- Uterine prolapse
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Chronic pelvic pain
The four types of hysterectomy surgeries are
- Supracervical (also called subtotal or partial) hysterectomy
- Total hysterectomy
- Total hysterectomy with uni- or bi-lateral salpingo-oophorectomy
- Radical hysterectomy
How Types of Hysterectomy Affect Hormone Changes
Let’s look at the effects of each in turn, to clear up some fears around hysterectomies and hormone changes.
1 Supracervical Hysterectomy
A supracervical hysterectomy is also known as a subtotal or partial hysterectomy. For this, the surgeon removes the upper portion of the uterus and leaves the cervix in place. Doctors advise this type of hysterectomy to treat conditions such as endometriosis or for certain urogynecologic procedures. On the other hand, having part of your uterus removed should not affect your hormones too much.
2 Total Hysterectomy
During a total hysterectomy, the surgeon removes both the uterus and cervix. Doctors often advise this type of hysterectomy if you’ve had cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, or uterus cancer. Even though the cancer isn’t necessarily already in the cervix, it can spread there even after the other organs are removed. This is therefore why doctors will advise patients with these kinds of cancers to have their cervix removed as well.
It may not seem that a total hysterectomy will affect your hormone levels. However, your uterus and ovaries share a blood supply. So when the uterus is removed, the blood supply to your ovaries gets compromised. This means that ovarian dysfunction or atrophy can occur. This in turn can cause a lowering of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
3 Total Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy
In a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus and the fallopian tubes plus either one ovary (unilateral) or two ovaries (bilateral). As a result of removing the ovaries, the risk of ovarian cancer developing disappears .
However, the ovaries are the primary producers of estrogen. So this type of surgery will affect your hormone levels. On the other hand, if you still have one remaining ovary, it will continue to produce estrogen and testosterone – but not at optimal levels. If the surgeon removes both, you can expect to go into surgical menopause (see below).
4 Radical Hysterectomy
A radical hysterectomy is exactly what the name implies – the most radical type of hysterectomy that you can have. Like a total hysterectomy, the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix, the ovaries, both fallopian tubes, and nearby tissue, including some vaginal tissue.
Surgeons usually carry out radical hysterectomies to remove and treat cancer. But mostly that’s when other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are not appropriate or have not worked.
Since the ovaries are no longer there, a radical hysterectomy will bottom out your hormone levels and put you into surgical menopause.
Surgical Menopause, Hysterectomy, and Hormone Changes
If you have a total or radical hysterectomy that removes your ovaries, your menopause will occur immediately after your operation, no matter what your age.
If, however, you’re left with one or both of your ovaries intact, you may experience menopause within five years of having the hysterectomy.
On the other hand, when you go through menopause naturally, your ovaries continue producing testosterone for up to 20 years.
What Happens When Your Hormones Decline?
If your body loses its ability to make estrogen, you may experience
And as if that weren’t enough, when your testosterone levels fall you may experience
- low libido
- muscle weakness
- sleep disturbances
- decrease in sexual pleasure
- weight gain
- fertility issues
- irregular menstrual cycles
- vaginal dryness
- loss of bone density
Are You Worried About Being Forced Into Surgical Menopause?
That’s a valid concern. Even women who are of age and prepared to go through menopause naturally have concerns and go through a grieving process. For some women, the symptoms of a hormone imbalance can be intense and even debilitating.
As a result, just thinking of having a hysterectomy that adds to hormone changes in this way can bring with it fear and a real sense of losing some of your life’s richness.
But there’s good news! Your symptoms are symptoms of a hormone imbalance. And a hormone imbalance can be treated with bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
How Can BHRT Help With a Hysterectomy and My Hormones?
BHRT replaces the hormones that your ovaries used to produce and relieves any menopausal symptoms you may have. At The Lamkin Clinic we recommend BHRT as a natural alternative to synthetic hormone replacement therapies. That’s because it’s derived from plant-based substances. These substances are structurally identical to the hormones your body makes.
BHRT has been a favorite for both men and women dealing with the aging process. In addition, it’s a perfect option for women dealing with a hysterectomy and hormone changes.
So – if the surgeon is going to remove both of your ovaries, you don’t have to wait until after your surgery for a BHRT consultation. We can get the process started and begin putting together your treatment plan. This means you get the benefits of BHRT as soon as possible.
On the other hand, if you’re keeping your ovaries, we can help you too. As a functional medicine practice, we can take the time to carefully work with you to
- measure your hormone levels,
- monitor your symptoms, and
- put together a treatment plan when necessary that covers your specific personalized needs.
Don’t let the hormonal changes connected with a hysterectomy put you off taking back control of your life and your ongoing wellness. Contact us today!