A hysterectomy can often lead to menopause sooner than normal, causing women to experience symptoms like hot flashes. While a hysterectomy is a procedure that removes the uterus, it does not directly cause menopause unless the ovaries are also removed.
What Are Hot Flashes?
Having a hysterectomy can result in episodes of hot flashes, which are abrupt sensations of extreme heat in the upper body. Hot flashes are usually accompanied by an irregular heartbeat, flushing in the chest, neck, and face, and often excessive sweating. The severity of hot flashes will also vary.
- Mild. Barely noticeable and don't interfere with daily routine.
- Moderate. More intense and noticeable.
- Severe. Intense episodes that force women to seek immediate relief.
How Long Do Hot Flashes Last after a Hysterectomy?
The duration of a hot flash episode after a partial or total hysterectomy is different for each woman. They can last anywhere between thirty seconds to five minutes. Episodes can occur sporadically for several years after surgery.
Why Do Hot Flashes Occur After a Hysterectomy?
Estrogen levels can decrease after having a hysterectomy - even more if you have your ovaries removed as well. This causes the hypothalamus to detect an increased body temperature and release compounds that make the blood vessels near the skin dilate so that the heat can be released, otherwise known as a hot flash.
Quick fact:Other symptoms, such as dizziness and irregular heartbeat, can occur post-hysterectomy. They usually start decreasing in severity and frequency after menopause, but in rare cases, some women may experience them for the rest of their lives.
Managing Hot Flashes After Hysterectomy
Hysterectomy and hot flashes are linked because of the reduced estrogen levels in a woman's body after the procedure. The following are various approaches that can reduce the severity of hot flash episodes:
- Regular exercise. An ideal exercise routine for hot flashes are aqua-aerobics or swimming laps, as they help keep the body cool.
- Healthy lifestyle. Make sure to feed your body only the most nutrient-rich foods possible.
- Appropriate apparel. Wear light, breathable clothing to help keep the body cool.Reorganize your schedule.
- Reorganize your schedule. Make sure you get to any appointment five minutes early, as this will prevent last-minute sprints and their corresponding hot flashes.
Medical and Alternative Treatments for Hot Flashes
Since low estrogen levels after a hysterectomy are the primary cause of women's hot flashes, additional therapies may be required. Leading a healthy lifestyle in addition to an alternative treatment method is the most effective way to treat hot flashes after a hysterectomy.
- Sikon, Andrea and Holly Thacker M.D. "Treatment for Menopausal Hot Flashes". Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. July 2004: 71 (7).
- "Hot flashes ... in January". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2004: 170 (1).
- Miller, Heather and Rose Maria Li, M.D. "Measuring Hot Flashes: Summary of a National Institutes of Health Workshop". Conference report. Mayo Clinic. June 2004: 79.