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rapid ageing after hysterectomy

Let’s Talk Rapid Ageing After a Hysterectomy

TLDR: This article talks about my personal experience of rapid ageing after a hysterectomy and what I have done and continue to do to slow the process of ageing after a hysterectomy

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In 2019, I had keyhole surgery for a total hysterectomy. There are different versions of this surgery, some have just the uterus removed, others tissues, the ovaries, and the cervix. It all depends on the situation. 

rapid ageing after hysterectomy
I was 30 when I had my hysterectomy

Having a hysterectomy causes lots of hormonal changes in the body. For me, I was 30 so it launched me into the menopause before I naturally would have been. This got me thinking about the effects of hysterectomy on ageing. Does it make you age quicker? How can you slow down ageing after a hysterectomy? And what are the risks linked to hormonal changes after having this surgery?

It’s something I don’t like to think about too much, but it’s not something to bury my head in the sand about, particularly if there are some things I can do to help.

In this article, I share my own experience of the changes I have noticed since having the surgery. From skincare to body weight and the impact of low estrogen, I take a look at research and what can be done to help prevent premature ageing after a hysterectomy and slow down ageing after a hysterectomy. 

ageing after hysterectomy

How a hysterectomy affects the ageing process

When you have the ovaries removed estrogen and progesterone (which are produced in the ovaries) stop. This puts you in the menopause, sometimes prematurely. Without these hormones, there can be effects on your mood, skin, hair, weight, health and mental health.

One study of women who underwent oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) before the age of 46, found that there were more cases of depression, hyperlipidemia, cardiac arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and osteoporosis. There were also more cases of having more than one of these conditions.

Animal studies show an acceleration in vascular degeneration and brain degeneration following an ovariectomy. Female dogs and female mice showed a reduction in lifespan in another animal study.

Skin, hair, and body weight changes

I know that some people find their hair gets thin and doesn’t grow so well, skin can become dry and thin and it can be harder to shift weight. I have really upped my skincare routine and make sure I cleanse and moisturise every night without fail. My weight has stayed pretty steady, but I do notice it is a little harder to drop a few pounds if I need to and I have written about my personal experience of weight loss after a hysterectomy here. My hair hasn’t changed. 

Emotional changes and mental health

As studies show, depression, and anxiety can really rear their ugly head during the menopause, whether it’s surgical or not. I’ve noticed sleep is more of a struggle and insomnia creeps in, which is also linked to anxiety for me.

I wrote about ways to calm anxiety here which I have found worked for me. I do worry that I have less years than I might have done had I not gone through the surgery, but I just really try to make sure I am enjoying life, happy, and present. 

Symptoms of low estrogen levels and the associated risks

There are lots of physical and emotional symptoms that can come into play when you have low estrogen levels including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, headaches, and trouble sleeping. Here’s where HRT really comes into its own. Hormone Replacement Therapy gives your body a dose of the hormones that you are missing, so you lessen or stop the side effects of it being low. I’ve written about different types of HRT here.

Low estrogen levels can put you at risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures as it’s a hormone that helps keep your bones strong. Estrogen also plays a part in how you process information and remember words, so when it’s low this is something that some notice – a bit of a brain fog kind of feeling.

rapid ageing after hysterectomy
Me post-hysterectomy surgery

Can you slow rapid ageing after a hysterectomy? 

I use a few different ways to help slow down ageing after a hysterectomy and prevent this speedy ageing and degeneration process because of hormonal changes. Here’s a few things that I do:

  • HRT – to replace some of the hormones lost through surgery and hopefully reduce side effects. I have written about different types of HRT here.
  • Healthy lifestyle choices – I choose a plant-based diet 80% of the time and am also gluten-free (gluten doesn’t agree with me since my surgery!) I talk more about weight loss after a hysterectomy here.
  • Reduced alcohol – I only drink when I go out on occasions now. I never drink at home as menopause makes me feel more anxious and this isn’t a good mix for me
  • Exercise – I have started doing pilates and resistance training to help increase my bone density and remain strong. It also makes me feel good which is great for the brain! On the days I don’t fancy the gym (so basically everyday!), I remember my WHY – to keep my bones healthy! 
  • Diary – I keep a gratitude diary to help me stay present and remember what I am grateful for. There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for and you can train your brain to look for the good in everything, so try this!
rapid ageing after hysterectomy
Me age 33 with my son

Here for a good time

Hysterectomy can lead to a variety of physical and mental changes – but that’s not to say I’m going to get them all, but there’s more of a risk without my body making these key hormones. It might make you worried about feeling old, try not to.

There’s a lot to get your head around, and if you’re offered therapy on the NHS (if you’re in the UK), or if you can afford it privately, take it. Speak to people on Facebook groups, friends, and family. Speak to doctors too and make sure you get all the information about HRT and discover whether it is right for you.

My advice, try to practice gratitude, find a hobby or exercise you enjoy to keep your mind sharp and your body fit, eat well, and don’t be afraid to tell people how you’re feeling.

As always, my inbox is open. 

Rachel xx

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