Most women expect negative effects from undergoing a full hysterectomy. The worries include the loss of her ability to conceive and carry a child, the possible loss of hormonal balance if the ovaries are also taken and a significant six-week recovery time from the actual surgery.
Unfortunately, there is another side effect from a hysterectomy that is not welcomed and often difficult to deal with.
That side effect is weight gain after hysterectomy.
In the normal course of aging, each one of us continues to lose a portion of muscle mass. This lean muscle mass burns more calories at rest than a pound of fat does.
The difference in the amount of lean muscle mass versus fat contributes to the decrease of the number of calories required in order to continue to make the body work on a daily basis.
Basal Metabolic Rate Changes
That number is called the basal metabolic rate. It describes the number of calories required in order to keep the heart, lungs, brain and remainder of the bodily organs working and functioning even while lying down in bed all day.
As we age this basal metabolic rate declines. We require less calories each day then we did the day before.
When we continue to eat the same number of calories we begin to gain weight. It is often referred to as middle age spread.
Those who undergo a hysterectomy not only are faced with this normal decline in metabolic rate but will also face an increased rate at which they gain weight, due solely to the removal of her uterus and potentially ovaries.
Regrettably, many physicians are not adequately prepared to help women following the removal of the uterus in the area of weight loss.
It is not enough to simply tell women that they must eat less and exercise more in order to regain their youthful appearance. At this point in life they are experiencing more than just weight gain and this is only one of the added stressors in their life.
Weight Gain after Hysterectomy
A combination of the reduction in the level of estrogen in the body with recovery time from the hysterectomy and loss of lean muscle mass all comes together to cause a greater amount of weight gain. Interestingly, many women also experience that weight gain in the abdomen.
Another contributing factor is that most hysterectomies are done when a woman is between the age of 40 and 50. This again is the time in life when a woman would normally experience a slower metabolic rate and an increased risk of gaining weight.
Although weight gain after a hysterectomy is a relatively common, the reasons why a woman gains weight after her hysterectomy is no mystery and is truly related to her age, lower lean body muscle mass and her potentially decreased amounts of estrogen blood levels.
By addressing these issues through reduced calorie intake, strength training to increase the amount of lean body muscle mass and support with other women who have found success in maintaining their weight most women are able to successfully achieve the lifestyle they desire.
For More Information:
Healthy Women: Hysterectomy and Weight Gain
Journal of Womens Health: A Prospective Study of Weight Gain after Premenopausal Hysterectomy
Photo: jeronimo sanz