Short-term Pain, bleeding, and hormonal changes are all possible side effects of hysterectomy. The effects of hysterectomy vary depending on the type of hysterectomy and whether or not the surgeon removes the ovaries.
What exactly is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical operation in which a surgeon removes the uterus. Depending on what the surgeon removes, there are many types of hysterectomy:
- A partial hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus while leaving the cervix intact.
- A standard hysterectomy involves the removal of both the uterus and the cervix.
- A total hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus, cervix, as well as one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Surgeons conduct Hysterectomies through the abdomen or the vagina. Some procedures can be performed laparoscopically or with robot-assisted technology. The approach your doctor takes may impact the side effects of the hysterectomy you experience after surgery.
Types of hysterectomy
The American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) classifies hysterectomy into three major categories:
- Total hysterectomy. The surgeon removes the uterus and cervix completely during this surgery.
- Supracervical hysterectomy. Surgeons remove the uterus but not the cervix during this surgery. This surgery is also known as a subtotal or partial hysterectomy by doctors.
- Radical hysterectomy. This procedure involves the removal of the uterus, cervix, and surrounding support tissue. For cancer patients, medical experts recommend this type of hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy with oophorectomy, on the other hand, is when doctors remove the uterus as well as one or both ovaries during the same operation. The fallopian tubes are removed during a hysterectomy with salpingo-oophorectomy.
In addition, surgeons can perform a hysterectomy in a variety of methods. They can remove the organs either through the abdomen or through the vagina.
A laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy is performed by a surgeon who performs part of the operation through the abdomen while removing the uterus through the vagina, combining both approaches.
Continue reading to find out more about the effects of hysterectomy on a woman’s body:
12 effects of hysterectomy
After a hysterectomy, you may experience the following feelings and emotions:
Some women experience feeling relieved after having a hysterectomy. Doctors often use surgery to treat uncomfortable symptoms such as pain and heavy bleeding. Reducing such symptoms can provide relief. You could also feel more relaxed.
You will also no longer have menstrual cycles following a hysterectomy. So, you will be unable to conceive. Some women find it a relief to no longer have to worry about pregnancy or having a monthly period.
Infections commonly occur in the incision at the top of the vagina, also known as the vaginal cuff. Antibiotics are typically effective in treating infections. In certain cases, more surgery is necessary to treat the infection. Infection is one of the most common complications of hysterectomies, with patients having a 30% chance of contracting it while in the hospital.
Approximately 85 percent of women have moderate-to-severe pain after surgery that needs pain medication. For relief, some women may need to use extremely addictive drugs such as morphine or fentanyl.
4. Blood Loss
The average amount of blood loss after a hysterectomy is equal to roughly menstrual cycles. It is twice that during an abdominal hysterectomy. Women should be aware that they may require a blood transfusion.
5. Organ Damage
During surgery, the organs around the uterus may be damaged. For example, the bowel, bladder, and urinary system may be damaged. When the bowel is damaged, it can be especially troublesome because infections can occur up fast. During surgery, surgeons try to identify injuries so that they can repair them.
6. Early Onset Menopause
Menopause can occur 4 to 5 years sooner in women who removed their uterus, even if the woman retains her ovaries. Blood flow to the ovaries may be disrupted without the uterus, preventing them from producing hormones effectively.
7. Psychological Problems
After a hysterectomy, a number of mental changes may occur. According to research, after the operation, women experience sadness, anxiety, and reduced sex drive. Some women may require medication to control their symptoms.
8. Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke Increases
If a woman has the operation before the age of 50, she is at a higher risk of having a heart attack or having a stroke.
9. Urinary or Fecal Incontinence
Frequent urination, incontinence, and bowel dysfunctions can also develop, leaving a woman constipated or suffering from fecal incontinence.
10. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the surgeon removes the uterus and the pelvic organs sag into the vagina. This may need more surgery to cure. Doctors may implant a transvaginal mesh in some women to maintain sagging organs.
However, these implants have their own set of problems, such as organ perforation and painful sex. Women who have had problems with transvaginal mesh have filed lawsuits against the companies that made the devices.
11. Increased Risk of Cancer
Some studies link hysterectomies to cancers such as thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, and renal cancer.
12. The Risk of Uterine Cancer Spread
Certain surgical techniques may raise the chance of uterine cancer spreading. Fibroids and other tissues can harbor cancerous cells. Without testing fibroids before surgery, it’s difficult to tell if malignant cells are present. A number of women have had surgery using a device known as a power morcellator, a drill-like device that chops up fibroids and uterine tissues into smaller pieces for easier removal but also puts them at danger of cancer cell spread. Some women have undergone routine operations only to be diagnosed with stage 3 or 4 uterine cancer.
Long-term health effects
If the ovaries are removed along with the uterus, the loss of ovarian function is most sudden. Even if the surgeon does not remove the ovaries, the operation affects the blood flow to these organs. This causes them to lead to failure to produce female hormones.
The failure of a woman to produce these hormones may raise her risk of bone loss, ischemic heart disease, and/or urine incontinence. Incontinence is usually temporary and may be avoided by performing pelvic floor exercises on a regular basis.
Are there any health risks?
A hysterectomy is a major operation. It has a number of immediate dangers, as with all operations. These risks include:
- Major blood loss
- Damage to surrounding tissues, such as the bladder, urethra, blood vessels, and nerves
- Blood clots
- Anesthesia side effects
- Bowel blockage
These risks are associated with most surgeries and do not mean that a hysterectomy is unsafe. Before the operation, your doctor should go through these risks with you and inform you of the steps he or she will take to reduce your chances of experiencing more serious side effects of hysterectomy.
If they don’t go over this with you, don’t be afraid to ask. If they are unable to give this information or answer your questions, they may not be the right doctor for you.
The Bottom Line
Pain, bleeding, discharge, and constipation are some of the short-term side effects of hysterectomy. A person may also suffer menopausal-like symptoms, such as hot flashes, for a short period of time. These will go away when the person recovers.
After the surgery, a person may experience feelings of loss or grief, as well as relief. Menopause will occur in those who have also had their ovaries removed, and HRT may be beneficial.
There are various risks associated with hysterectomies, and they also prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. Before undergoing surgery, the individual should consult with their doctor about all of their options.