Will you go through menopause directly after a hysterectomy? It depends. Did you keep your ovaries or an ovary after your hysterectomy? If you did keep an ovary or two, are they working properly? All of these details affect your hormones and if you drive straight into menopause-town.
I didn’t understand much of this when I went for my hysterectomy in 2018. I thought, “hey, I’m keeping my ovaries, I’m good to go,” but I wish I understood all the craziness of perimenopause and menopause just in case.
If you’d like to get caught up on my hysterectomy journey, or understand why I had a hysterectomy at the age of 35, please take a moment to catch up.
Does Having a Hysterectomy Mean Menopause?
If you have a complete/total hysterectomy that removes your uterus, cervix and your fallopian tubes, and ovaries (called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) – yes. When you wake up, your body will begin its beautifully shitty journey into menopause.
If you have any other type of hysterectomy (called a complete/total hysterectomy that removes just the uterus and cervix, or supracervical that removes just the uterus and keeps the cervix and ovaries) that keeps one or two ovaries, you might not. You might find that your body is creeping towards perimenopause and menopause relatively similar to your friends your age.
I was left with one ovary, but the blood supply was either not returned to it after my hysterectomy or it filed for unemployment and just stopped working like a normal 36 year old ovary. Cool story.
Oopherectomy and Menopause
I didn’t know going into my hysterectomy that I would also have an oopherectomy, but when it comes to endometriosis every surgery is a crap shoot. What will your surgeon find inside? It’s like a piñata! My surgeon found that my left ovary was stuck to my pelvic wall with endometriosis adhesions. It was a goner. One ovary down, unilateral oopherectomy done.
After surgery, I was not expecting to go through hormonal issues. I thought my one ovary would be a champion and pull through to provide the natural estrogen and progesterone to keep me away from menopause until my 50’s. Or at least mid 40’s (according to Mayo Clinic, the average age is 51). However, within a day, I started experiencing menopause symptoms and I guessed that my ovary was not pulling its own weight.
Menopause and Perimenopause Symptoms
According to Mayo Clinic, in the months or years leading up to menopause (perimenopause), you might experience these signs and symptoms of menopause (or in my case, the weeks after a hysterectomy):
- Irregular periods (well, no uterus, so no period for me ever again)
- Vaginal dryness (I couldn’t even look at my vagina for 7 weeks, seriously, there’s a lot of warnings they give you about a healing vagina and the vaginal cuff after surgery)
- Hot flashes (check)
- Chills (check)
- Night sweats (check)
- Sleep problems (check)
- Mood changes (HUGE CHECK)
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism (check)
- Thinning hair and dry skin (jesus christ check)
Let me give you some examples of me going through menopause in an instant after hysterectomy.
Heart Palpitations After Hysterectomy
One of the scariest side effects that happened right after my surgery was heart palpitations. It felt as if my heart was constantly skipping a beat. I thought it might have just been a weird side effect from an antibiotic, but it kept happening. I almost went to the ER because it scared me so much. I had no idea that menopause could change your heart rhythm! After getting on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), these arrhythmias went away.
Mood Changes After Hysterectomy
Imagine crying over literally everything that you see or hear. Imagine sobbing over the stupidest questions like “do you think your cat is sad that it never had kittens?” I couldn’t stop crying.
But what is she always wanted to be a mom and now she never can?!?!
I also cried over a cake-pop shaped like a porcupine because it was “too cute to handle.” And any commercial that had sad music, and pretty much every holiday commercial about families coming together over coffee. It was out of control. I needed HRT like I needed to know if Mushu really ever wanted kittens.
Hot Flashes After Hysterectomy
Hot flashes are like when your brain is magically transported into an oven while your body still on the couch at a comfortable 70 degrees. The hormones, or lack thereof, after menopause make your body go haywire and sometimes put it into a state of extreme stress – heat, nausea/chills, sweating. This probably happens when you least want it to, like holiday gatherings.
Hot flashes can also happen at night – and for me they happen often. Night sweats are awful – just waking up drenched in sweat under the covers, begging to go stand in front of the refrigerator in the middle of the night. While mine initially got better after hormone replacement therapy, they have come back, a fun little experience I’m dealing with right now. Someone get me an ice pack.
Stress Incontinence After Hysterectomy
You ready to pee when you laugh? Cough? Sneeze? It’s a lot harder to control your bladder during urges (urge incontinence) or during pressure on the bladder (stress incontinence). Having a hysterectomy changes the form and function of your pelvic floor. Even though I’ve never had a kid, I sympathize with women who pushed out a 10 lb. kid and now cross their legs when they sneeze. I’ve tried all of the stress incontinence products before I got onto hormone replacement therapy, which helped, along with pelvic floor work.
Skin Changes After Hysterectomy
Right after my hysterectomy I started developing melasma. Melasma is a change in skin colorations, with brown patches appearing on the skin – often after hormone changes like pregnancy or menopause. I used Vitamin C on it as much as I could, but over-the-counter products weren’t enough. While dermatologists and cosmetologists offered laser treatment, my OBGYN offered me hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a skin bleaching prescription that is often used for melasma, but under a doctor’s supervision. Also, it meant I had to stay out of the sun for forever, or risk even more appearing. We’ll see how it turns out.
Also, cystic acne broke out like I was a 13-year old boy. I started developing hormone-based acne on my chin line and on my back and chest. It was like I was going through puberty! I’ve been trying to use DermaE acne products on what I can fight myself.
Because of this, I increased my Hormone Replacement Therapy and my OBGYN prescribed testosterone-blocking medication called spironolactone. Still working to resolve this one – not sure if I’ll continue using it, but it’s at least an option.
Menopause and Perimenopause Must-Have Products
I’ve found a few products that have been helpful to my journey that I wanted to share with you.
Speax Bladder Leak Underwear: Speax undies provide similar coverage as a light to moderate absorbency pantyliner, but in a built-in, washable underwear format.
Disposable bladder leak underwear: I used both Depend® Silhouette® Active Fit® Briefs and Always Discreet. Yes, they are bulkier than regular underwear, but for the most part were really comfortable and easy to hide under anything besides yoga pants.
Hydroquinone: This prescription medication is used for melasma.
DermaE Acne Line: This over-the-counter brand of beauty products is one of my favorites. I’m an ambassador for their lines of gluten-free plant-based beauty products. Their acne line has been great while I’m trying to get my hormonal acne under control. (affiliate link)
HRT Hormone Replacement Therapy: I’ve been using BiEst bio-identical hormone therapy since all these crazy things happened to me. I started out with troches (sublingual compounded medication), but it would make my tongue numb. Not sure what my reaction was to, but I switched to pills. Pills are supposed to be less effective than troches, but they’ve been working for me. Not only do these have estriol and estrodiol, but they have progesterone as well.
Your Menopause Journey
This is just the start of my menopause journey. I’ve got a long way to go and hopefully I can figure it all out. Anyone have any feedback from your menopause journey?
I have a product recommendation from my mom. Try Evening Primrose Oil capsules. She liked this brand https://www.gnc.com/plant-based-omegas/265630.html
I believe it says in the bottle use twice a day.
Couldn’t remember if in my other comment I added: my mom took the Evening Primrose Oil for hot flashes.
I had a total hysterectomy over 3 years ago from endometriosis. I was hoping they could save my one ovary too as the other one had a endometrial cyst the size of a grapefruit. Alas the adhesions were too bad to save it. It’s been an emotional roller coaster of HRT. Just had my HRT increased…darn brain fog and short term memory lapses not to mention the fatigue. Here’s hoping the increase helps. Hope your journey reaches a smooth road ahead soon.
Thank you for sharing. I now understand some of the symptoms that I’ve been having for over a year after the surgery. I was blaming chemotherapy but your story makes perfect sense.
Hello I really hope things got better for you. Thanks for your time in sharing your story. I’m suffering from terrible cystic acne after my total hysterectomy and oophorectomy 6 weeks ago. I’ve also been prescribed Spironolactone. Did your skin clear up? I’m absolutely desperate and so down about it. Any information you can share would be appreciated. Thank you.
Did you have both ovaries removed?
Just one, but the other one is not working. This sometimes happens with surgery, you might have one ovary left, but it doesn’t have blood flow maintained to it after surgery.
I had a total hysterectomy four weeks ago. Reading your story and the comments has helped a great deal. Prior to my diagnosis of endometriosis, I had very bad cystic acne. I had a rash under both arms & on my face. I was 30lbs. heavier. I had foggy brain so badly that I wouldn’t drive. I started to take Ancient Nutrients Gut Restore, avoided all grains, dairy, sugar & preservatives, lost 33 Lbs. and I got better. My muscles & joints felt so much better, I was consistent and the acne disappeared. I then I had the first surgery to verify that I needed a total hysterectomy. Got the total hysterectomy, was in and out within 6 hrs. Now, five weeks later I am having weird mood swings, anger, to tears. I lost a lot of hair from the anesthesia, my skin became super-dry, I am bloated, gained some weight back despite remaining on the diet. I am exhausted, and severely constipated. I can’t sleep well and I don’t know who to talk with because I am in Florida.
Thank you for sharing your story. So I was diagnosed with breast cancer right after I turned 30. Kicked it’s ass but it decided to come back. Fought it and beat it again. It exhausted me. The chemo forced me into menopause. I was told that I would never have another period. However, my body said SUCKER! And my period came back about 6 years ago. I’m on blood thinners bc the chemo messed up my blood. My periods are AWFUL! So much so that I’m seriously considering a hysterectomy. My periods try to kill me a bit more each month. I’m 44 now and don’t think I can wait until my body decides when it’s ready to go through menopause again. I have hot flashes, night sweats and cry over every THING! Just last week I was legit crying over crying. I’ve got to get some relief soon.
I just had my hysterectomy 6 weeks ago. I was able to keep both ovaries but something seems to be going on. I am 44 yrs old and started having cystic acne. I had the same thing 14 yrs ago after my last daughter was born. I have been feeling so sad and extremely emotional about everything. I am still having a lot of post hysterectomy swelling and the thought of returning to work in the medical field terrifies me at this moment. I don’t feel ready to go. My job is very physical. I see my dr next week and she is supposed to check me “internally” and am not mentally prepared for that either. My vagina has been off limits. I don’t even want to check it yet.
I had a hystercetomy in March of this year and I was not prepared to be so ao emotional both physically and mentally. I have 3 children but I also suffered a miscarriage 12 years ago. This surgery has brought out ao many issues and everyday is a struggle. Deprression has been tough and at times it takes me a while to wanna get simple chores done around my home. I take it day by day and my biggest help is definitely my kids.
Lara B, how was your internal exam? I just hit 6 weeks post-op today and I am 100% dreading my exam. have you gotten any relief from your symptoms?
I have cystic acne all over my chin getting worse by the day, my hair is falling out, my heart is racing all the time, i have hot flashes, i can’t sleep, and i have zero energy. i don’t think i’ll return to work for at least another couple months. i didn’t expect any of this. i kept both ovaries and thought it would be smooth sailing.
WOW! I am happy to report that my hysterectomy journey has been smooth sailing. I kept both ovaries but I still get my period symptoms each month.
My attitude has improved tremendously and I lost weight. I am 53. I was out of work for 13 weeks and the hardest part of my journey was constipation immediately after surgery.
My sexy has improved so I did not have the fear of not wanting my vagina touched.
I did go thru an adjustment period of paying close attention to my bladder because I would go hours without going to the restroom. Now I go very frequent and I must go when my bladder says go as not to wet my pants.
I too did the surgery because of cyst and endometriosis. I had a phenomenal doctor and have no regrets about having the surgery.
Some of your experiences scare me and have me wondering if the worse is yet to come. I pray comfort for all of you and strength.
Oh my God, my gynaecologist is recommending a hysterectomy due to a large fibroid I have on it. It is not cancerous however. I don’t know why they can’t just remove the fibroid but need to do a hysterectomy. Now I’m totally scared shitless after reading all this!!
Hey y’all!! I just had a total hysterectomy back on 3/21/22, and EVERYTHING was removed, fine by me! No more shitty, painful periods with clots. I’m 50, and so far, no issues to report, which I am lucky.
My first appt with the Physician Assistant at the two week mark went well, I had told her how my legs had hurt, but was, and still positive as to no DVT’s since it’s, the pain, has diminished more. She was quite shocked and happy, that I was doing a 30 minute walk each morning in the driveway. Plus, she was very happy I had no bleeding, discharge, or odd things.
My right upper inner thigh/ hip area after surgery, hurt like hell, like it was broke. I had joked with the two nurses that my leg must have been in a weird yoga pose during surgery, since I had yelled after they helped me move my leg, and they laughed nervously. I’ve been walking in my driveway most mornings, for 30 minutes, unless hubby and I go for groceries and such.
I see the PA again on May 5, yes, Cinco De Mayo, lol, for my 6 weeks, for the “down below” reveal on healing. I think it’s gone well, since I haven’t had any issues. No bleeding, no discharge, or anything.
We have no kids, I’ve got no skin issues, no loss of hair, etc. I do pee A LOT, but I have been drinking 3-6 bottles of water a day, and being so tired in the afternoon and evenings can suck too. Sneezing and coughing can hurt like crazy! And I do get cramps when I have a bowel movement and/or gas.not as bad as it has been, but still there.
I never got sent to someone for exercises or for eating better, which is a no brainer, but we don’t always do that. I was just told to take it easy, and day by day. I’ve had a little bit of ooze on a stitch, nothing to worry about. There is a fog in the head, from time to time. Also, no one tells you that getting on and off the toilet in your first few weeks SUCK!! And you have NOT LIVED till you bend to wipe yourself, and have pain.
Very thankful to my hubby for helping me daily on various things, and giving me hell on carrying bags, bending, etc. And I will have a pad burning party at the 3 month mark! And thanks to all for sharing your stories!