Hysterectomy is a pretty big and scary word that represents what can be a pretty big and scary procedure.
A hysterectomy can be necessary, and in some cases, life saving. But it can also sometimes be perceived as a hero-like procedure that will finally put a stop to a range of issues and unfortunately, this is not always true. So if you’ve been told you require a hysterectomy, there are some things you need to know about possible long-lasting side effects, as well as that there may be other things you can do to address the root cause of the issue.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure where the female reproductive organs are removed. Named from the ancient Greek ‘hustera’, meaning womb and ‘ektome’, meaning excision, you can have a partial hysterectomy, where just the uterus is removed, or a complete hysterectomy, where the uterus and both ovaries are removed.
Why do women have hysterectomies?
Hysterectomies are used to treat a range of conditions, most commonly uterine fibroids, many ovarian cysts (PCOS), heavy or painful periods, endometriosis, adenomyosis and even prolapse. But it’s important to ask, what causes these conditions in the first place?
Firstly, chronic illness comes in many forms and ranges in its severity, depending on how long the dysfunction has been going on. In the case of severe chronic illness, where the cells of the tissue have become damaged and replicate, you can develop uterine cancer, ovarian cancer or cervical cancer. In these cases it is best to follow your oncologist’s advice as the chronicity of your body’s dysfunction has gone too far, and is life threatening.
Additionally, in the case of PCOS, you may need the ovaries removed because they have torsioned. This typically happens when you have multiple cysts on the ovaries causing them to become heavier which increases the likelihood of them falling and twisting on themselves, leading to the ovary turning gangrenous and definitely needing to be removed.
But if you have heavy painful periods with uterine fibroids, endometriosis and/or PCOS, a hysterectomy can help your symptoms, but won’t fix the root cause. All of these conditions are fed by high oestrogen, so the ongoing care and side effects related to the hysterectomy can be just as much of a hindrance as the primary issue was.
Typically, after a hysterectomy women are prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which contains oestrogen. This is because the reproductive organs produce a large amount of our oestrogen (not all though) and having them removed ‘may’ result in low oestrogen, a side effect of which is linked to osteoporosis (weak bones). HRT also, however, competes for receptors in your thyroid, causing it to become underactive – leading to difficulty losing weight, dry skin, hair falling out . . . all the things we don’t really want and shouldn’t have to deal with after major surgery!
As well as these unpleasant side effects, you may require a bladder sling post-surgery. This procedure is literally what it sounds like, a sling to hold your bladder up. Because you’ve just removed a softball sized organ from your body, your organs tend to shift around, so we need to keep them in place. Not ideal.
So is there an alternative?
Before you think a hysterectomy will solve all your problems, you must stop and consider why do you have high oestrogen in the first place? Why do you have cysts on your ovaries, or uterine fibroids? Etc.
It all comes back to the imbalance in the default mechanism of your brain. When our fight or flight nervous system is activated, the rest, digest, reproduce and repair part of our nervous system is inhibited. Hence our body doesn’t perceive it’s safe to fall pregnant, causing our hormones to go out of balance. Leading to high oestrogen, the heavy painful periods, breast tenderness and soreness, and adrenal activation which affects our sleep and ultimately affecting your thyroid. So both your own Oestrogen levels and HRT can both affect your thyroid function.
Learn more about the easy steps you can take to work on the cause of high oestrogen by implementing the ‘SD Protocol’. Visit the ‘SD Protocol’ page of our TSOM website to find out more about the journey back to health.
Main point: Hysterectomies can serve an important purpose, but don’t expect them to solve all of your problems.
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