The major reasons women have a hysterectomy is due to endometriosis, uterine prolapse and uterine fibroids. Annually, hysterectomies are performed on around 600 000 women that post-surgery, experience hormonal imbalance after a hysterectomy. Hormones such as estrogen feed endometriosis and fibroid growth that in turn can lead to women having to have a hysterectomy.
Ovarian hormones such as progesterone and estrogen play a vital role protecting the health of organs such as the breasts, brain, heart and bones. When the ovaries are removed along with a hysterectomy, this can suddenly cause the onset of ovarian hormone deficiency, which should only occur when women go through their natural menopausal transition. However, even if the ovaries are not removed, a hysterectomy can still cause a decrease in ovarian hormone production which causes premature menopause.
How to Avoid Hormonal Imbalance after a Hysterectomy
In most instances, women suffering from fibroids or endometriosis find relief after having a hysterectomy. The downside is that most women experience temporary or long term hormone imbalance. If treated correctly, the hormones can be properly regulated which will improve their overall health. The various treatment options include:
• Hormone Replacement Therapy (RHT) – following a hysterectomy synthetic hormones are often prescribed. HRT medications have proved to be highly effective, in that they help balance the hormones during the early stages after a hysterectomy.
• Supplements and Vitamins – post surgery natural vitamins and supplements can be used to balance hormones. Herbs such as wild yam, ginseng, dong quai and black cohosh are commonly used. Melatonin and vitamin E can also help regulate hormone levels as they stimulate the body's estrogen production. Soy protein in small doses provides estrogen mirroring minerals and vitamins in the body, which help balance hormone levels.
• Cardiovascular Exercise – low to medium routine cardiovascular exercises three to four times a week help to maintain hormone balance. Be aware that intestinal workouts can stimulate and increase hormone levels. Exercise helps alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression which is common post-surgery. Before starting an exercise program following surgery, it is important to check with your doctor to ensure the surgery site is properly healed.
• Diet and Nutrition – a healthy way to avoid hormone imbalance after surgery is to eliminate processed foods, which can increase or decrease hormone levels. Avoid marbled and red meats as they contain high levels of hormones. Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli that contain a substance known as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) that metabolized and produces diindolylmethane (DIM). These substances help regulate estrogen's and have some anti-cancer effects, particularly for breast cancer.
• Maintain a Healthy Weight -. When body weight is properly maintained, your body will not stimulated the overproduction of certain hormones. More estrogen can be produced in the body when there is excessive adipose tissue. Include phytoestrogens such as sunflower seeds, legumes, flax seeds, peas, soy foods and bean sprouts as these plant based substances can naturally balance your hormones.
If you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance after a hysterectomy, an excellent start would be to address your lifestyle positively, along with physical exercise and a healthy well balanced diet. It is also important to gain the support of your health care provider. Balance creates a greater sense of well being and in turn provides you with optimal health.