by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
Over half the women who undergo hysterectomy but retain their ovaries will experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance, even though they still have ovarian function. This is because the ovaries and the uterus share their blood supply, and post-hysterectomy ovarian function is often negatively affected.
Women who have an oophorectomy (as in a TAH/BSO, in which the uterus and the ovaries are removed) enter menopause overnight. They are often put immediately on synthetic HRT, and in many cases still suffer symptoms of menopause.
Whether you have had a partial hysterectomy, a total hysterectomy, or a total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy, we make several key recommendations to support your body through this transition. They are all based on the fact that your body can restore its hormonal balance over time, partly by developing secondary sites for estrogen production, which it would naturally do in a gradual menopause.
- First, consider phytotherapy. Several herbs, including black cohosh, red clover, chasteberry and ashwagandha provide natural, gentle support for the three key hormones that fluctuate after a hysterectomy: estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Some of these herbs work best synergistically, so we recommend you use a multibotanical that offers natural and diversified support.
- Young women who undergo early surgical menopause benefit from bioidentical estrogen replacement therapy, which can be used until the time of natural menopause (age 45–55) or longer if so desired.
- For women with persistent hot flashes we also recommend using soy isoflavones at the Japanese nutritional dosage of 80 mg a day. Soy derived from the whole bean (vs. the germ) is preferable and is available in powder or pill form.
- Finally, we also recommend the use of a pharmaceutical-grade multivitamin, calcium and magnesium, and omega–3 essential fatty acids.
This basic program is usually extremely beneficial, along with dietary changes like decreasing carbohydrate intake, to alleviate many of the symptoms women often experience after having a partial or total hysterectomy.