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Hysterectomy Questions: What are the side effects of a hysterectomy?

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Updated July 17, 2009

What are the side effects of a hysterectomy?

Side effects depend on a number of things, including your age, condition, whether you are still having periods, and what type of hysterectomy you have. If you were still having periods before surgery, they will stop after the operation.
  • If your ovaries are not removed, you will continue to have hormone changes like you did with your periods, but you will not have bleeding.

  • If your ovaries are removed, you will go through changes like menopause. These might include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, mood swings, or other symptoms.

Other side effects of hysterectomy are similar to the side effects for any type of surgery. If you work outside the home, you will need to be off for several weeks, how long depends on the type of hysterectomy you have and your doctor's orders. You will need help with routine activities such as child care, shopping, and housework.

Additional side effects of surgery include:

  • Effects of anesthesia: The doctor will give you anesthesia so you will not feel pain during the operation. You may feel moody, tired, or weak for a few days after anesthesia. You also may feel a little sick to your stomach (nausea) after anesthesia. The doctor usually can give you something to help settle your stomach.

  • Infections: As with any type of operation, there is always a risk of infection. If you do get an infection, your doctor will give you medicine to treat it.

  • Too much bleeding: There is always a risk that you might bleed too much during an operation and need a transfusion. Ask your doctor if you should donate some of your own blood before the operation or if someone should give blood for you.

  • Damage to nearby organs: It is possible that during the operation a part of your body near the uterus might be damaged. Although this is unlikely, you should ask your doctor what might happen if an organ is damaged.

Studies have shown that for a small number of women, hysterectomy may be followed by one of more of the following problems: unwanted weight gain, constipation, fatigue, unexplained pelvic pain, and premature menopause, even when the ovaries are not removed.

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Reprinted from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR)

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