A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. Hysterectomy may be total (removing the body, fundus, and cervix of the uterus; often called “complete”) or partial (removal of the uterine body while leaving the cervix intact; also called “supracervical”). It is the most commonly performed gynecological surgical procedure. For women aged 35 to 54, the most common reasons for a hysterectomy are fibroids, endometriosis, and abnormal bleeding; after age 55, the most frequent reasons are uterine prolapse or cancer.
Fibroid tumors are benign growths in the uterus that occur to some degree in more than 50 percent of all women. They are most commonly asymptomatic and never life-threatening. Nevertheless, as Christiane Northrup, MD, notes in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, “they are the number-one reason for hysterectomy in this country.”
Women with small fibroids are told that an early hysterectomy is advisable because if the fibroids grow, the hysterectomy will be riskier and more complicated. According to Northrup, “there is little or no justification for this.” In some cases, fibroids grow and cause bleeding, and this is the most common problem related to them.
However, there are newer treatments for fibroids and bleeding that can help women avoid a hysterectomy. Even the largest fibroids can be removed surgically; others can be destroyed by freezing or cutting off their blood supply with lasers, electrocautery, or tiny plugs in blood vessels (uterine artery embolization). Abnormal bleeding can be halted by various means of destroying the uterine lining. Prolapse can usually be corrected surgically without removing the uterus.1
If You Do Have a Hysterectomy
If your condition is severe enough, a hysterectomy may be required. We also offer a recovery plan that will help you heal more quickly and support your hormonal system after your surgery.
About six to nine months after a hysterectomy a woman may begin to experience a variety of symptoms. These symptoms gradually get worse over the next three to six months so that about one year later, Post-Hysterectomy Syndrome develops. For 30-40 percent of women, the symptoms are severe and debilitating. Some common ones include:
- mood changes
- hot flashes
- night sweats, day sweats
- muscle or joint aches
Support for the Endocrine System with supplements and natural progesterone cream can help your body make needed hormones as well as balance the undesirable actions of too much estrogen. A complete hysterectomy will bring your body into menopause; it is vital to prepare for this with the appropriate support system.
- Natural progesterone cream contains pharmaceutical-grade USP natural progesterone that is identical to what is made by a woman’s body. Dr. John Lee, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, recommends a four to six month program using natural progesterone. He suggests applying 50 – 60 ml of progesterone per day (1/4 tsp. in the morning and ¼ tsp. in the evening ) for 26 consecutive days and then a five day rest. As we are all so unique the dosage may be adjusted accordingly. Please check with your health care practitioner. According to Menopause and Estrogen, Natural Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy, by Ellen Brown and Lynne Walker: “Estrogen is only necessary if the body is unable to make a sufficient supply from the precursor hormone (natural progesterone).” Natural progesterone has been reported to work without estrogen even on menopausal symptoms following surgical menopause in certain cases.
- If you are taking estrogen: Health writer Dr. John McDougall, M.D, states that after about age 45, when estrogen production would have fallen off anyway, you can gradually wean yourself from it with the help of a health care practitioner. When you are withdrawing from estrogen, hot flashes can more intense than before you started taking it. Taking natural progesterone along with it can help you decrease the dose without difficult symptoms. Women who have had a hysterectomy usually aren’t given progesterone along with the estrogen because they don’t have to worry about uterine cancer. However, natural progesterone can still be useful to these women, not only to help them decrease the need for estrogen, but to preserve their bones.
Dietary Recommendations for Post-Hysterectomy
For midlife women and those who’ve had a hysterectomy, it’s even more important to ramp up your omega-3 fats to keep your weight in a healthy range and balance your hormones.
“The body of a midlife woman is going to do everything in the power of nature to maintain weight because body fat is like a third ovary,” says Northrup. “It produces estrogen and hormones. That’s why women gain weight at midlife. The body is just desperate to keep those hormones balanced.”1
- Great omega-3 foods include salmon (vitalchoice.com salmon is mercury-free), flaxseeds, chia seeds and pastured beef and eggs.
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are high in vitamin K and also provide friendly flora to the gut
- Eliminate most refined sugar. Occasional desserts are OK; savor them and perhaps share with a friend. You can also make your own desserts with raw honey, maple syrup, Rapadura and coconut sugar.
- Increase consumption of fiber in your diet, which is vital for metabolism and excretion of certain female hormones. This also helps stabilize glucose in the blood. Ideal sources of fiber are organic beans, nuts and seeds. Brown rice and sprouted breads are OK if you do not have a gluten or grain intolerance.
- Increase consumption of complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and fruits: Organic vegetables with the exception of potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers, and low-glycemic fruits such as berries, grapefruit and apples.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, which can mess with your blood sugar and adrenals, thus altering hormone production.
- Restrict or eliminate pasteurized dairy products.
- Eat frequently every 3-4 hours and thus keeping a steady glucose supply in the body.
- Utilize good plant fats like avocados, coconut oil and olive oil.
Exercise, exercise, exercise: helps push out excess estrogen, stimulate endorphins and seretonin levels and keep weight in a good range
WALK. This upright exercise involves movement, gravity, and muscle pull on the bone and thus exerts a very beneficial effect on the overall well-being.
YOGA/PILATES. Combines flexibility and strength training with weight-bearing exercises. Also great stress reducers.
WEIGHT TRAINING. Training with light to medium weights a few times a week helps preserve bone mass and keep muscle tone.
GET SOME SUN. It is important to spend time outdoors when ever possible. Vitamin D helps to metabolize calcium.
Supplement recommendations for Post-Hysterectomy
Very effective with balancing hormones.
Very important for post-hysterectomy; Have your vitamin D levels checked and maintain between 35-50 ng/ml.
Previously it was believed that humans could make their own GLA. Now we are learning that many women have inadequate levels of GLA, resulting in various health problems. GLA in the body is converted to prostaglandin E-1. The balance of prostaglandin E-1 and prostaglandin F is very important because when this balance is lost many of the female problems discussed above usually appear.
Helps clear excess estrogen and balance blood sugar.
Helps clear excess estrogen and balance hormones.