A woman may have a hysterectomy after deciding that she is done bearing children, does not want them in the first place, or has a medical reason to have her uterus removed. Like any other type of surgery, the body goes through many changes directly after a hysterectomy. There are some positive and negative side effects, usually depending on the reason for the surgery in the first place. Many women find that they enter surgical menopause, which means that this stage of life comes right after the procedure instead of naturally later in life. On the other hand, women whose painful reproductive problems forced them to have this surgery might find some relief.
This type of surgery may involve just removing the uterus, although a total hysterectomy involves the removal of the ovaries as well. Women who have a total hysterectomy will enter menopause, but women who keep their ovaries usually don't, though their periods do stop. This side effect is caused by a drop in the amount of female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, in the body, since they are produced primarily in the ovaries. Fortunately, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is available to reduce the effects, usually through a pill or patch.
Women experiencing early menopause frequently notice a change in their appearance after a hysterectomy, such as weight gain or sudden hair loss. Many also have hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, and vaginal dryness, as well. Often, psychological changes also occur, from decreased sex drive and depression to anxiety and memory loss. In general, any side effects that usually occur during menopause can be expected following a hysterectomy, especially in younger women who have not yet gone through this stage on their own.
Some women have to get a hysterectomy in order to eliminate issues caused by their uterus. This may include cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, such as uncontrollable bleeding. On the other hand, some women opt for the surgery to prevent painful menstrual periods. In either case, they may feel relieved that the issue is now gone, but sad that they had to resort to major surgery that renders them unable to have children. They will still likely be pushed into menopause, but the good news is that they should feel some physical relief once source of the pain or discomfort is gone.