A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes some or all of a woman’s reproductive organs. The fact that a hysterectomy is also sometimes called ‘Surgical Menopause’ is an indication that many of the side effects of hysterectomy are similar to the symptoms of menopause.
Hysterectomy that is performed after a woman has attained menopause may not be as troublesome or drastic as if the surgery had been performed during the reproductive years. If it is performed prior to natural menopause the side effects could be drastic, sudden and fairly troublesome in some cases.
Side effect depends upon the type of hysterectomy
The side effects that a woman experiences will depend largely on the kind of hysterectomy she is required to undergo – if only the uterus is removed, a woman will stop having her periods but may have fewer other side effects.
If a woman has had to undergo a radical hysterectomy where the uterus is removed along with the ovaries (oopherectomy) her symptoms will be similar to undergoing sudden menopause.
Common side effects of a radical hysterectomy
- The recovery time for this surgery can be significantly long and complications could include infection, bleeding, and so on. There will be serious curtailment of activity for about 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.
- The rate of complications are higher among women with cancer, those who have fibroids, are pregnant and so on
- The symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, memory problems, and many others may be noted. Sometimes it could be an unintended oopherectomy that causes this and at times, this could happen even when the ovaries are left intact – this happens because of the lack of endocrine feedback due to removal of the uterus and the ovaries are not able to function normally.
- An impact may be felt on the cardiovascular and skeletal systems as well. Heart disease risk is seen to rise after menopause and may also rise after the ‘hormonal shock’ of surgical menopause. The risk of brittle and easily breakable bones (osteoporosis) also rises.
- Risk of problems of urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse are also seen to rise after a hysterectomy.
- There are also very significant emotional side effects of a hysterectomy. There is a negative impact noted on sexual libido as well as arousal after this surgical procedure. Absence of proper vaginal lubrication could further exacerbate the problem and this could also cause relationship tensions. Women also tend to feel the sense of loss that can accompany the passing of the reproductive phase of their life.