How to avoid weight gain after hysterectomy?
If only doctors would warn women before their hysterectomy, that most women gain an average weight of 25 pounds in the first year after their hysterectomy.
It’s likely women would be more conscious about what they eat and their sedentary lifestyle.
I’m sure that no woman likes to gain weight at any age.
Regrettably, there is a lack of information doctors offer about hysterectomy and weight gain. But also on how women can prevent a massive weight gain in the year after the hysterectomy.
The problem is that once you gained much weight after the hysterectomy, it is hard to lose it. Why does it seem so difficult to lose those extra pounds and is weight gain after hysterectomy unavoidable?
What causes weight gain after hysterectomy?
We may find it hard to admit, but as we grow older we become more sedentary and our metabolism slows down. This means that to maintain our weight we will have to cut down on calories and exercise more. So, the odds are not on our side when at the end of our fertile years we have to have a hysterectomy.
Even women that had a very active life style before the operation are forced to slow down during the recovery period of this surgery. They may see that for the first time in their lives that weight gain becomes an issue.
Some women suffer from joint pain after hysterectomy which can make it impossible to do any type of exercise. Especially women going through surgical induced menopause may have terrible aching joints due to dropping hormone levels. The truth is if you do not keep up at least some level of activity, you will soon see the pounds piling up.
These hormonal imbalances may also cause women to become very emotional or depressed. Some women try to deal with these emotional issues through food. Unfortunately, comfort eating will not make you feel better. Instead it will cause rapid weight gain which will make you feel worse. This way you can easily get trapped in an unhealthy cycle.
How our body changes after hysterectomy
Not only do women gain weight after hysterectomy but there are also certain skeletal changes. During the operation, regardless of the type of surgery, they cut through the ligaments that keep the uterus in place. These ligaments also hold the pelvic bones together.
After they remove the uterus, a shifting of the pelvic bones takes place. This is why many women complain about wider hips after the surgery. As the pelvis opens up, the spine compresses and the ribcage comes to rest close to the hip bones.
For this reason, post hysterectomy women often have no waistline and a pronounced belly. These changes in the skeletal structure can also lead to chronic pain in the lower back.
There is also a different distribution of fat in the body. I believe that all women will notice that after the hysterectomy they store more fat on the abdomen than before. As women grow older, the percentage of muscle declines and the percentage of body fat increases.
As you can see there are many reasons why women find it hard to stop their gradually growing waistline.
Read more at the Whole Woman Blog.
What can you do to prevent weight gain after hysterectomy?
Women that are well-informed about the risk of HYSTERECTOMY AND WEIGHT GAIN can do a lot to avoid it by:
- obtaining healthy eating habits. Eat smaller portions than you did before the surgery. Prefer to take frequent meals, like 5 to 6 times a day, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- eating foods that are known to speed up metabolism such as lean meat, lentils, chili peppers, oatmeal and almonds.
- drinking enough water. Water has no calories and it can speed up metabolism by 30%. Drink two glasses before a meal to fill up your stomach. This will make you eat less.
- boosting your metabolism with exercise. Before starting any kind of exercise after hysterectomy, consult your doctor if it is safe to do so. You should aim to be active at least for 3 hours every day. This includes working out at the gym, swimming and cycling, but also other activities like walking the dog and cleaning the house.
- getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep has a notable impact on metabolism. Some studies suggest that chronic lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of being overweight and diabetes.
Read more in our post: Post hysterectomy weight loss and how to do it right.
Who is most at risk of post hysterectomy weight gain?
A study published by the Journal of Woman’s Health in 2009 was done to find out if premenopausal women in the year following a hysterectomy gain more weight than a control group of women who have not undergone this surgery.
The results of the study showed, that the women in both groups had gained weight during that year. But the women who had a hysterectomy gained more weight and had a higher BMI (body mass index), after the first year, than women in the control group.
They reported that 36% of the women with a hysterectomy gained more than 5 pounds and 23% more than 10 pounds. But not everybody gained weight. About 17% of the women measured a weight loss of more than 5 pounds.
Women already overweight at the time of surgery and women that struggle all their life with weight problems are more at risk of larger weight gains.
Other factors that appeared to influence weight gain after hysterectomy are:
- Being single or divorced
- African-American women
- Lower education level
- Women that are smoking
- Not consuming alcohol
They also noticed differences in weight gain by type of surgery and indication. Higher BMI and weight gain was found in women that had an abdominal hysterectomy than after a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy. Women with fibroids and menorrhagia also showed statistically more weight gain after hysterectomy than women who had other indications for this surgery.