When a woman has been diagnosed with a serious gynecological condition – such as painful uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, endometriosis (abnormal tissue growth outside the uterus), adenomyosis (thickening of the uterus), or cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries – her doctor may recommend a hysterectomy as a treatment option.
Hysterectomy for noncancerous reasons is usually considered only after all other treatment approaches have been tried without success. The procedure can provide many benefits, but it also comes with some risk. That’s why it’s important for women considering a hysterectomy to know the side effects that may occur following surgery.
These side effects may depend on such factors age, pre-existing health conditions, whether you are still menstruating, and the type of hysterectomy you are undergoing. Nevertheless, here are common side effects you could experience:
- Weakness and Nausea may be the result of the anesthesia you receive for your operation. It could last for a few days, but your doctor can prescribe something to soothe your stomach.
- Excessive Bleeding can occur during the operation; if it does, you may require a transfusion.
- A Longer Than Desired Recovery – Depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, you may have to take off from work or refrain from housework or more rigorous activities anywhere from two to six weeks, Also, if you are on narcotic medication for pain, you won’t be able to drive. However, your recovery time may be shorter if the procedure is performed through laparoscopy (in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions guided by camera) or vaginally.
- Certain Menstrual Changes – If you still had periods before your hysterectomy, they will cease after the operation. If your ovaries were not removed, you’ll continue to have monthly hormonal changes, but you won’t have menstrual flow.
- Possible Induced Menopause – If both ovaries are removed as well as your uterus (a double oophorectomy), your body will go through the natural changes associated with menopause and you may experience symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swing, night sweats, and vaginal dryness.
- Possible sexual dysfunction – For some women, their sex lives improve after a hysterectomy. Others, however, may experience decreased desire, a reduction in the frequency and intensity of orgasms, and/or pain during intercourse. Either way, you won’t be able have intercourse for at least six weeks after the operation. Studies show that women who keep their cervix have no functional loss and most women that have a hysterectomy for benign disease usually have beneficial effects on sexual function. However, those who undergo a hysterectomy for a gynecologic malignancy often experience a worsening of sexual function.
In addition, a small segment of hysterectomy patients experience other side effects such as unwanted weight gain, constipation, fatigue, and unexplained pelvic pain. Learn more by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Paddy Jim Baggot.