Womens Health

Is Weight Gain Inevitable After a Hysterectomy?

Perhaps because so many women who have partial or full hysterectomies gain weight and keep it on after the surgery, women have become somewhat conditioned to believe it is inevitable. Although weight gain usually does accompany this type of surgery, it is not a life sentence to being overweight. However, it does require diligence, determination and doggedness to ensure you don't join the statistics.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

There are a number of different factors that play into weight gain after a hysterectomy. Statistics show that the average amount of weight gained in the first year post-op is 25 pounds. After the first year, the gains seem to drop, but unless steps are taken to rein in the problem, it will persist. That is why it is important to go into the surgery cognizant of the potential outcomes and to be forearmed in order to prevent out-of-control weight gain. Prevention often is the best medicine.

Weight gain is the result of several factors - mostly diet and exercise (or lack thereof), as well as hormonal issues. Sometimes a condition or illness causes a woman to gain weight and keep it on. However, when it comes to weight gain after a hysterectomy, the usual culprits are hormonal imbalances and lack of exercise.

The benefits of exercise for physical, mental and emotional health have long been known and after a hysterectomy, activity will not only help keep weight manageable, it also keeps a person healthier all the way around. Exercise helps to burn calories while it encourages the release of endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters. A healthy diet, high in fiber and nutrients and low in fat and sugars (calories) is also important to maintaining healthy weight. Water - the wonder drink - is essential for the cells in the body to function, recover, and maintain a healthy metabolism.

What You Can Do Immediately Post-Op

If you went into your surgery carrying excess weight, you may lose some after the operation, but because you will be quite restricted in your activities, you will likely gain it back and then some unless you decide right away to cut your caloric intake and walk as soon as you can. By cutting portion size by one-third to one-half you immediately reduce the number of calories you are taking in and then, by moving as much as possible as soon as you can after the surgery, you will put your body into more of a calorie burning mode rather than being sedentary. Have a chat with your doctor to determine the best type of diet for you. He or she may refer you to a nutritional consultant who can help you with your diet.

Weight Gain After a Partial Hysterectomy

A partial hysterectomy, when the ovaries are left and the uterus is removed, presents a different scenario for weight gain than a full hysterectomy does. Weight gain with a partial hysterectomy may be the result of restricted blood flow to the pelvic area after the removal of the uterus. Less blood translates into a drop in hormone production, which in turn affects the way your body burns fat and uses calories. The other reason for weight gain with a partial hysterectomy is the recovery period after the surgery. You will be told to lay low for a month to two months, restricting your physical activity which causes your metabolism to slow down. This does not have to be a permanent situation and a consultation with a reproductive health specialist can be useful in helping you rid yourself of the excess weight.

Weight Gain After a Full Hysterectomy

When the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus are removed the procedure is called a radical hysterectomy or full hysterectomy. If cancer is present, then even more tissue may be removed to ensure the disease is interrupted sufficiently. Your ovaries have a variety of functions, among them the production of several different hormones that help to regulate metabolism and body weight.

When hormone production drops due to non-function of the ovaries (the same thing that happens in menopause), weight can be gained. There is a decreased flow of blood to the pelvic area that manifests as increased fat in the abdominal area. The abdominal fat is largely attributable to the imbalance between estrogen and androgens. Androgens are male hormones that are present in both sexes, although there are many more in men. After a hysterectomy, estrogen and progesterone levels drop causing androgen levels to rise. This rise in androgens causes weight gain and increased fat deposits in the abdomen especially, along with other parts of the body. Bioidentical hormone replacement is a valid way to bring balance back into the body.

You Can Take Control

By taking small steps and making the effort necessary you can gain an edge and make a difference in your weight and the way you feel. Below are some suggestions to help you get started:

· About ten minutes before every meal drink eight ounces of water. This will help you feel fuller so you eat less.

· Trade the sugary snacks for raw veggies or a piece of fresh fruit. You'll gain health and eat fewer calories.

· If you can get there by walking or riding a bike, go that way rather than driving. You'll burn extra calories and feel better, too.

· Take the stairs rather than the elevator. You'll be amazed at how this impacts weight loss and helps to strengthen your leg muscles.

· Steer clear of fruit juices and sodas. Fruit juice is extremely high in fructose and little fiber, so you're drinking a lot of sugary calories that become stored as fat.

· Even though your movement will be somewhat restricted after surgery, move as much as possible every chance you get. Walk, if you can't do anything else. Walking at a comfortably quick pace enhances your sense of well-being, gets oxygen into your blood, clears your mind, keeps you away from the fridge, and helps you lose weight. Bonus!

A combination of the right hormone treatment, healthy diet and exercise will help you keep the weight off after a hysterectomy.

What other effects come with the having a hysterectomy? To find out more, read the article about post-operative problems and concerns.

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