Hysterectomy Myths and Facts, Part 2: Changes to My Body
In Part 2 of Hysterectomy Myths and Facts, we take a look at misconceptions people may have about what having a hysterectomy can mean, especially as it relates to menopause and sex. Many of the thoughts women have about what their life will be like after a hysterectomy is actually what women experience during menopause. Understanding the difference can help women make informed choices for their health.
1. Myth: A hysterectomy will immediately start menopause.
Fact: A hysterectomy removes only the uterus (supracervical hysterectomy), or the uterus and cervix. It’s important to understand the role of the ovaries in menopause.
- Menopause begins when the ovaries are removed or when they no longer produce estrogen. While periods will stop with a hysterectomy, menopause is the result of reduced (or eliminated) estrogen production. The procedure that removes the ovaries is called an oopherectomy.
- If having a hysterectomy before natural menopause, if only the uterus, or uterus and cervix are removed, periods will cease, but hormone production should not be affected. This procedure should not change the course of natural menopause.
- Only a hysterectomy with a bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy (fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed on both sides) procedure will induce menopause. It is important to know what your procedure includes so that you know what to expect.
A NOTE ON HORMONE THERAPY: Many organs within the body have receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and (along with the adrenal glands) testosterone that are produced by the ovaries, including the breast, uterine lining, vagina, bone, and blood vessels. While these hormones primary role is to facilitate reproduction, they have an affect on many other functions of the body, such as maintenance of bone and cardiovascular health, and in regulation of body fluid.
2. Myth: My sex life will change after a hysterectomy
Fact: All women are different in how they experience their sex lives. Having a hysterectomy doesn’t have to mean a drastic change in your relationship.
For most women who have a hysterectomy at CIGC, it takes approximately 6 weeks for the top of the vagina to fully heal, after which most patients can resume sex. (Assuming you get the all clear from your physician!)
Changes to sexual arousal can occur with hormonal shifts that are typically the result of menopause. If your hysterectomy is performed alongside an oopherectomy, and menopause begins as a result of that surgery, a discussion with your doctor about the benefits of individually tailored hormone therapy, and/or lifestyle adjustments like using vaginal lubricant, can help women cope with those symptoms.
3. Myth: A hysterectomy will cure my endometriosis
Fact: If a hysterectomy is performed along with resection of endometriosis, and all endometrial implants are removed, patients will have a higher chance of success in eliminating the symptoms caused by endometriosis. While a hysterectomy can be an important part of the treatment for longer-term relief, it does not cure endometriosis.
4. Myth: I have fibroids, but I still want to have children. I don’t want to have a hysterectomy.
Fact: There are multiple treatments for fibroids (and other conditions that cause infertility) that don’t require a hysterectomy out of the gate. Many women have procedures to treat a GYN condition like fibroids, and while they may ultimately choose to have a hysterectomy after they are finished having children, it is not the only treatment.
Women with fibroids who wish to retain their uterus may be candidates for myomectomies. Additional conditions may cause infertility. Read Ljubica’s story.
5. Myth: I’m not a candidate for minimally invasive surgery for my hysterectomy.
Fact: While many surgeons are skilled at laparoscopic procedures, not all are. If robotic or open procedures are the only options offered to you through your OBGYN or an affiliated surgeon, please get a 2nd opinion. It is important to note that the person performing the procedure may not the right person to perform your surgery. It most likely has nothing to do with you or your condition. No matter how complex your condition, or the size of your uterus, it is highly likely that you are still a candidate for minimally invasive GYN surgery.
Tools to Help Evaluate GYN Surgeons
Knowing what to ask can make the process smoother for patients. We see so many women who wish they had come to CIGC first. If you are unsure about the procedure that has been recommended for you, please keep asking questions.
Here are some of the most important questions and answers to help you navigate your GYN surgical consultation. If your surgeon can’t answer these to your satisfaction, please get a second opinion.
To book a consultation with Dr. Paul MacKoul or Dr. Natalya Danilyants, please book online or call 888-787-4379.
At the Center for Innovative GYN Care, we perform GYN procedures using highly advanced techniques, including DualPortGYN and LAAM.