A few years ago, I began writing for Hormones Matter about the gross overuse and adverse effects of hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Year after year, these posts generate tens of thousands of views and hundreds of comments. The comments inevitably follow the same pattern of unwarranted removal of organ(s) without informed consent and ensuing declining health. We are publishing a series of articles highlighting women’s comments. This is the fifth of the series and addresses the common complaint of chronic fatigue. The first article is about lack of informed consent and can be found here. The second one talks about how our “exterior” settles / collapses after the uterus is removed. The third addresses organ dysfunction and the fourth is about loss of sexuality and emotional emptiness. Although the 90% elective rate of these surgeries would imply that they are “restorative” or at least harmless, medical literature and women’s experiences prove otherwise.
Chronic Fatigue and Loss of Stamina
Many women commented on my other articles about chronic fatigue and loss of stamina and vibrancy since their hysterectomies even if they still had their ovaries. Although sleep problems were a common complaint, even absent those, women just couldn’t seem to get past the chronic fatigue and lack of stamina. These experiences match those of the majority of 1,000 hysterectomized women surveyed by the non-profit HERS Foundation. Those results are as follows:
- Loss of energy: 78%
- Profound fatigue: 77%
- Loss of stamina: 69%
- Insomnia: 61%
- Unable to maintain previous level of activity in home: 34%
The complete list broken out by hysterectomy only, hysterectomy with one ovary removed, and hysterectomy with both ovaries removed can be found here. Below are comments from some of my articles.
Chris (age 64) says:
“My husband and I had and unbelievable sex life, I had loads of energy and strength and was able to joke about being “37”. I now feel like and old woman. I want to sleep more then move, I have little strength….”
“I have no energy at 38. I have more problems now than I did before surgery.”
“The Testim has helped my energy levels but I have lowered the dose as my body hair increased.”
“…my finance had a cervical hysterectomy [sic] back in January of this year and she seems to be having issues with mood swings sex drive depression and fatigue.”
“My hysterectomy was necessary due to Essure permanent birth control. One migrated to my uterus and I was sick from that poison…. I’m 11 months post op…. I’m fatigued. Have migraines and have become very anti social.”
“I was a very active women, always running around from 6am till 9pm…. I am tired all the time.”
“I’m 12 years post op…. I stay fatigued and have no sexual drive and depression….”
“Hysterectomy [sic] in 2007…. Severe fatigue, bloating, pain under rib. No answers…. My life has been horrible since.”
“…my energy levels have dropped too.”
“I had TAH kept my ovaries (boy, that was a battle)…. I have had so many problems since…. I truly feel awful. My energy levels are just depleted. I’m dealing with idiot doctors rift now plus I am too tired to go to all these specialists…. I also have severe rib pain right and left. I have bowel problems too and the nausea and fatigue is hell.”
“Ever since HYSTERECTOMY my whole personality has changed, gone from an outgoing lady to a hermit rarely interested in socialising and I have little energy and gone from 60kg to 70kg.”
“Had my surgery in 2010, compared to photos of me and my energy levels, sex live, I have aged about 10 years in a 5 year period. My mother also went for her hysterectomy during 2012, she experienced similar side effects.”
“I can hardly get out of bed. I have no appetite, no energy, and I feel awful.”
“I ache constantly, I still get intense flashes and my energy level has gone from active (pre-surgery) to minimal…..I am so sleep deprived and so sore….I feel I was not thoroughly informed and this surgery was the biggest mistake! I cry and yearn for who I was a year ago.”
“Ever since surgery I had so much pain, discomfort, fatigue, and now depression. I used to be real busy with my family going outdoors for hunts, fishing and picnics. Now days I just barely do anything and my whole life has changed. My health has just been going down.”
“After 3 months post surgery, I had to retire my full time profession as a licensed therapeutic massage therapist due to fatigue, lower back, sacroiliac joint, hip, leg and foot pain!… My balance has been compromised and have had (4) falls since surgery…. I use to enjoy my walks with my dog and make attempts daily, but I become winded and fatigued almost instantly….”
“My health just continues to decline. I was the most active person before this surgery, now I do nothing most days. I’m very concerned about my bowel issue and the relentless fatigue.”
“I saw my mother destroyed by a hysterectomy at 38. This has been going on for decades and the denial has to stop. Women don’t even have to tell me they’ve had one. I can see it – in their faces, their hair, their figures, their lack of vitality.”
“take ambien to sleep”
“I can’t sleep at night.”
“taking a sleep aide”
“Can’t sleep, wake up with headaches every day. Having major sweats, Loosing my hair and my mind!”
I caution any woman who is told she needs a hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy or is considering one to heed these comments. With the gross overuse of these surgeries, chances are she’s being sold a false bill of goods. It’s not always a good idea to rely solely on your doctor’s advice as Someone
Who Cares cautions:
“After 40 years of enduring this “disabled” existence, it breaks my heart that no matter how many of us try to warn other women, in various ways, the number of these destructive surgeries continues to increase, not decrease.”
A complete list of my articles can be found here. The HERS Foundation is a good resource for understanding the lifelong functions of the female organs. It also has information about gynecologic conditions and treatment options. These two sites, Gyn Reform (especially the studies/citations link) and Ovaries for Life, are excellent resources about the gross overuse and harm of ovary removal or hysterectomy induced loss of ovarian function.
Share your Story
If you have a hysterectomy story, please consider sharing it on Hormones Matter.
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This article was first published in April 2017.
Glad to have a link from Dr Russ. I’ve had an interest in hysterectomy since my Grandma’s miserab;e experiences haf a century ago – it still hauns me; both that she went through it and also that we couldn’t help – moreover, we still aren’t a lot of help!
One of the worst long-term effects was dementia (senilty in thse days). I suspect the surgical trauma may have an overlooked contribution i.e. scars and adhesions. She always complained of being, and/or, feeling “cut” but was labeled a malingererer. Naturally the surgeon found nothing and absolved himself. Some adhesions can form over 20 years! Hard to do a study. They do recognise a lnk but feel it’s hormones.
The answer is pure Selye research. Hysterectomy (or any major surgery) is a form of severe stress that extracts a huge amount of energy (ATP) and is the human equivalent of the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) described by Selye (see the post on HM). Those women who do well have adequate cellular energy and adapt to the stress. Those that suffer undue fatigue are energy deficient. Their GAS is inadequate. A supplement of thiamine and magnesium would restore the ATP
I am 18 months post full hysterectomy and am suffering debilitating insomnia and fatigue, body aches and pains including nerve damage in my buttock area that makes sitting painful. In hindsight i feel i was pressured in to it by gyno and gp both saying that at my age as i was post menopause there would be no side effects and also no risk of ovarian cancer in the future. They really emphasised that point tho it seems the risk of that cancer is extremely rare and i had no other risk factors. I feel now i was “rushed” in to it as covid was just emerging (March 2020) and there was talk of elective surgeries being put off indefinitely. I had benign fibroids which would give me some painful “twinges” now and again….otherwise no other symptoms. Post op… now after researching i find out that fibroids could be treated in other less invasive ways. My whole body shape has changed. I stoop and feel (and look) like i have aged 10 years. My lack of energy, chronic insomnia and overwhelming tiredness ( body and mind) make me wonder how i will endure the next 10-20 years of life. I feel robbed of my quality of life. If my life continues like this this i seriously question the point going on.
I had my hysterectomy done in May 2019 and it was professional and safely done in Zimbabwe. Kudos to our surgeons. I really feel for those have been affected negatively or had their surgeries go wrong but I am one of the many other women who have had successfully hysterectomy and living a normal if not better life than before.
I don’t think it will help people to make informed decisions of all you post are the negative experiences. I know loads of women who are living better lives after hysterectomy and wish they had done it earlier.
I appreciate these kind of replies as we women can often feed off of each other’s emotions and stories. I am only 2 weeks out and feeling what a lot of these women are explaining but the vibrant vivacious happy active woman is there and I know with the bleeding issue solved I will be in a healthier place. Finding a good natural vitamin refining will also help. Staying hydrated, finding something to help you sleep, keep your gut in good health and no matter how much you don’t want to walk for at least 30 minutes every day. It sucks to have chronic pain, fatigue and an exhausted spirit and mind leading to anxiety and depression and lack of motivation for life. I refuse to sit back and let anything negative hold me back – I am told it will need 6-8 weeks for my body to get the hang of adjusting to the removal of the organ. It’s a big surgery. You have to learn to adjust and live life as a partially new person. I will remind myself of this daily. I appreciate this comment and will move forward with a positive out look knowing I will be able to do all that I am capable of because I demand that from and for my life!! Cheers to living! Cheers to hoping!
I had a hysterectomy exactly 6 weeks ago. Today is my first day back at work. I have fatigue but its not overwhelming. I think i did push myself in recovery too much and that’s why im tired now. I had heavy bleeding and cramps for months leading up to the surgery. I also had a large fibroid. I have never wanted children so we went to surgery as my first choice of treatment. My recovery was uneventful and really i had no pain post op. I have had 1 migraine in the past 6 weeks and it was a few days ago. I think it was mostly due to the stress of coming back to work.. but i was diagnosed with migraines years ago and get them normally so i don’t think the surgery had any effect of that. I have been nauseous a few times but it didn’t last long. I have not had any sexual relations so i cant speak to any pain from that.
I had a total hysterectomy nov 2017 I had a lot of bleeding for about a year my dr said that was normal but when I went to see my gynecologist he took a biopsy and call me ASAP he told me I had endometrial cancer n that I needed to see a surgeon within a week I was in his office and less then a week I was having a total hysterectomy I’m tired all the time I was very active before the surgery now I have insomnia don’t go to sleep till about 5 or 6 in the morning then I sleep all day I’m in pain every single day I have gained so much weight I feel like an 80 yr old person or even older I was 54 when I had the surgery I was a truck driver of 23 yrs now I can’t even get in and out of the truck cause I’m in pain all over
Sylvia – I am sorry you are suffering these common effects. I was also rushed into surgery for possible cancer. My organs were removed even though the frozen section was benign. You can imagine my anger and feelings of betrayal as a result. I was a complete mess until I got enough estrogen in my body. I still hate how it’s changed my body and aged me but at least I can function and am no longer suicidal (for the most part). I wish you the best.
Please,please eat!!! I was in the same situation following a different cancer surgery which affected my digestion. I was eating less than you and gaining weight. Thank God I found a doctor who told me when our bodies are starving,they will gain weight. As soon as I increased my calories to a normal amount…over 2500…the weight gain stopped. I am still over weight and have a long way to heal my metabolism but restricting food…especially after surgery when our bodies need extra calories to heal,is a huge mistake. I had a total hysterectomy three months ago due to cancer and am healing slowly.
Had laparoscopic Hysterectomy and salpingoophrectomy age 58 for Endometrial Cancer. Cancer has gone but the fatigue and hot flushes are awful. Can’t go back to work as a carer. Exhausted all the time. Having to shower during night to feel human. Just stopped menstruation at 57. Putting on weight. No motivation. Totally exhausted
I’m 43, just had my hysterectomy plus crevix removes in November last year. It’s only been several months. I had adenomiosis and cancer cells on my cervix. They warned me that things would be different but that I should be back to normal within 6-8 weeks. I’m not. I’m tired all the time. I sleep most 3-4 days a week and can barely spend time with my daughter. I have maybe 1-2 ok days. Then a I’m back down. At first I had no clue what was causing it. Til I read this. Thank you all. Now I know. Does anyone know how to deal with this if there is help for it?
I had a really large fibroid on my uterus. The doctor said I needed it out and I should get a hysterectomy at the same time because the fibroids would just come back. Well, I immediately felt different afterwards and I don’t feel comfortable jogging or jumping anymore. Going pee is a production because I have to tilt back and forth and side to side to vacate all the urine. Things just feel
smashed down there. Wish I would have known or given options about the side eggy.
I 34 and a yer post hystorectomy. I was not given a choice to have this done I had a baby by ceserian and the doctor cut my uterus and the uterine artery and possibly my bladder and colon. Anyways long story short I told the doc i felt something during surgery he ignored me and I bpeed out for a long time before the nurse notified the doc i had blood in my foiley bag he ignored it said ita no big deal and left me to bleed more. Finally after coding the dr took me back for exploratory surgery and ended up doing a total hystorectomy which I didnt know about till after the surgery. Well it turns out during the hystorectomy he cut something else my femeral artey and they had to go and do an angipgram and use coils to fix the bleeding. They never really explained to me what happened and kept pumping me full of drugs I told them I didnt want. I spent a week in thr hospital andvwas sent home drugged up not really grasping what had happened. I then begain to suffer sereve right side lower pelvic pain. When I was cleared to have sex it was a nightmare and still is it hurts so bad I cry and now my marriage is falling apart. I Cant walk or stand or push ir vaccum or that place swells up and it hurts so bad. It has really affected my bowels and bladder something I never had problems with before. I am purely miserable I suffer from severe ptsd and depression i dont ever sleep and I used to be super fit and active I cant anymore because it hurts I used to look so young and beautful but have aged 10 years in one year. I have the mommy tummy problem where all my organs shifted downward because my uterus isnt there anymore. When i lay flat on my back there is a huge lump on my roght side where i feel the constant pain they did a ct scan and found nothing they just blame scar tissue my mind doesnt function I cant form thoughts or words like I used to and sometimes find my self slurrung words i am always always naucious and cant eat certain foods i was skinny before but have lost 40 more pounds since this happend. I am in constant pain ao tired all the time excessive fatigue andeasily overwhelmed and have to take naps my iron is in the tubes because i cany eat without feeking sick or so bloated. I am chasing acter 5 kids tow special needs a toddler a d and one year old and taking careo f my disabled veteran husband. I was doing all this before the surgery but it seems I get easily overwhelmed and cant handle it. People are always commenting on how tired I look and how I used to be so pretty. I am sick of living this way this dr. Ruined my life and there are many times I wished I would of jist bleed out so that I didnt have to deal with all this constant pain and suffering. I was fired from 3 jobs because i couldnt stand the pain amd had to leave. This really sucks all I want to do is be normal again to sleeo throught the night to vaccum the floor with out wanting to pass out to not have to take anti naseua pills everyday to fee like the old me to not grieve something i no longer have.
Crystal – I am so so sorry this happened to you! How horrific!! Hysterectomy is damaging enough without all the surgical complications you endured that have caused additional permanent damage! Have you by any chance pursued a medical malpractice case? With two surgical “screw ups” (C-section and resulting hysterectomy), it sure seems like you would have a case. But I don’t know the statute of limitations in your state. Most have a 1 or 2 year limit. The non-profit HERS Foundation may be able to give you an attorney recommendation. Also, HERS has started a project called “In My Own Voice” for women to share their hysterectomy experiences in the hope that we can prevent other women from undergoing this surgery that is rarely necessary. It would be great if you would submit your story. You can remain anonymous by using an alias. Here is the link to submit your experience – https://www.hersfoundation.org/in-my-own-voice/.
I had a hysterectomy Dec 2017 due prolapse.. my problem is I can’t shake off the exhaustion
I had a hyst back in may of 2018 due to cin3 sever dysplasia, I’m tired all the time and still have pain during sex and seriously makes me cry still , to the point my fiancee doesn’t even want it cus it hurts me , Dr did cut through my bladder during surgery die to I was swelled up and tilt and bleed out for 3 months , took insurance 2 months to approve my surgery ? it was a long story with that, I’m scared to go back to the Dr but know I need to go ? , I want this to go away
Rach31 – I’m sorry you’re suffering these after effects of hysterectomy. 🙁
Oh no, I had a hysterectomy and both ovaries removed a month ago. For the first 2 weeks I was doing ok but then all went up in the air. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I had multiple fibroids and 1 that was 8cm sitting on my bladder so was constantly going to the toilet. I was told it was better to get ovaries removed while they did the surgery so that there was less chance of complications. I’m 49 so I was told I’d be going into menopause anyway. After reading these posts I’m terrified. Fatigue is so awful with back pain, sleeplessness and nausea and it’s still early days for me. I’m tearful and already feel this is the end of me. Help is there any advise.
Ann – I’m sorry that you too were misled into having your ovaries removed. “Less chance of complications” by removing ovaries? That’s nonsense and makes me “see red” that women are typically told things like this. Numerous medical studies show that ovary removal, even decades after menopause, increases risk for many health problems. Hysterectomy oftentimes impairs ovarian function and may cause the ovaries to shut down completely but that’s not a good reason to remove them. Hysterectomy is likewise way overused and has its own set of negative after effects. But, unfortunately, female organ removal is very lucrative and has therefore become a standard of care that we cannot seem to reverse.
Although what’s been done cannot be reversed, I think it’s important that you learn about the after effects of hysterectomy and oophorectomy so you can be better armed to deal with the aftermath. I wish you the best moving forward.
I had my hysterectomy october of 2017. I had my last child in 2014 which had to be an emergency c-section. Everything ruptured. I then developed hugh blood pressure so birth control was out of the question. So i had my tubes tied. Severe pain had an allergic reaction to the clamps. So we went for the hysterectomy. My uterus was attached to my stomach wall, ovary attached to the other side and tons of scar tissue. Now, I am tired all the time. I have a 15 year old, 9 year old who is autistic and a 3 year old. This last week i have had severe nausea and vomiting, just flu like symtoms. My depression is horrible and my anxiety. Im an LPN and I have severe anxiety and PTSD from losing a child. So I am always wondering whats wrong with me. Im 34 why can’t i be who i use to be?? I hate this and wish i could turn back time.
Megan – Thank you for having the courage to share your experience. I’m sorry that you’ve had such horrific care by gynecologist(s) including not being told about the after effects of hysterectomy or tubals (especially those that use devices such as Essure or Filshie clips). Chronic fatigue and mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings are commonly reported by women who have had hysterectomies. I hope you can find the help you need to improve your situation.
I had a radical hysterectomy with lymphnode removal due to uterus cancer 3 years ago I was 43 . Noone prepared me for the slide down hill ive had with my health . Im grateful im alive but after hysterectomy left exashsted depressed, joint pain and i have severe nerve damage in my legs from lymphnode removal . Ive gained 30 pounds and thats not eating 2 days a week and eating less than 800 calories the rest of the week .if i eat normal ill gain another 50 lbs The only thing doctors offer me are physcotropics which I refuse . I use to be social now I dont care my bed and dogs are my life . Worse I cant even take estrogen pills as im a cancer survivor. Im asexual i no longer care it exiat Im very lucky to be alive im grateful for that so its ying and yang . They saved my life but also took it away . I found it best to forget who I was and embrace a new me . And id suggest given a choice women should not quickly pick hysterectomy unless absolutely nessasary. There is a life after hysterectomy but kiss youre youth goodbye.
Sherry – I’m sorry you had endometrial cancer and are now suffering the effects of hysterectomy. Thank you for having the courage to share your story and encourage other women to forego hysterectomy unless absolutely necessary. The problem is that many gynecologists deceive women about their diagnoses and treatment options to get them to consent to hysterectomy hence the reason almost 1 in 2 women has a hysterectomy. I have written a couple of articles on this healthcare con.
Thanks again for speaking out. Our voices seem to be the only hope for ending this egregious harm of so many women. I wish the best for you going forward.
I had my historectomy at the young age of 28. I was having sever pain in my abdomen from having the IUD. It caused a lot of pain and swelling along with shooting pains down my legs. I had it removed 1 year later when doctor finally listened and seen how much pain I was in. A few months later still in sever pain doctor said he needed to do a hysterectomy due to cysts on my left ovary he went in and said he had to remove both ovaries, uterus and cervix said I had endometriosis. Now I’m 38 I’m no longer the person I used to be. I’m depressed I’m super super fatigued I can sleep 12 hours and still feel exhausted. I have no drive anymore. If I would’ve known the surgery was going to change me like this I would have never done it. I would’ve rather suffered with the pain or explored my options more. I wish I could rewind time and take back the surgery. I feel like my life is slipping by and I’m doing nothing with myself because I’m not myself anymore if that makes any sense and I feel as if I’m aging faster too along with gaining weight.
Katherine – I’m so sorry that you too were not provided with the necessary information to make an informed decision. Sadly, that is the standard when it comes to hysterectomy (and some other gynecologic procedures). Gynecologists are harming women at alarming rates. Absent any authorities taking action to end it, it’s critical for those who have undergone this surgery to speak out and warn other women. So thank you for doing that.
I have 7 children. It’s been 2 years since I had a hysterectomy. I still have my ovaries but with the changes I’ve been experiencing, it’s as if I don’t have my ovaries. I’m presently 33 years young but feel like I’m double my age. I’m incapable of getting things done the many ways I used to and my I don’t even enjoy the foods I used to. Although I’m happy I made it out of surgery alive, I feel like I went to sleep on that operating table and a very necessary, unique, and significant part of me died! Now that I think about it, it’s like when scientists say “if you throw off the balance of nature it brings chaos.” Well that is exactly what happens to us women who had a hysterectomy. Our body is a representation of mother nature and our hormones is that balance. Aside from the fact I was not well informed, I understand something now I didn’t realize before I had to get this procedure and as I’m writing this just came to my mind. The issues I have are insomnia(occasionally), nausea, constant migraines(especially when I wake up). All of these are at the most uncomfortable level. My bones and muscles have become so sensitive, my moods do their own thing, and the biggest issue I have is this imprisonment FATIGUE! I hate it! I feel in my heart I could pretty much defeat the bone and muscle weakness if I could get back to my old self by staying active but this fatigue has me easily drained. I get depressed with how quickly I become exhausted and always sleepy.
I had to get the surgery because after having 7 children, and they were all 8 and 9 pound babies, my uterus was so big it was sitting on my bladder causing me to have a serious bladder prolapse. Just like I support the cure to cancers, I support a solution to prevent hysterectomies.
Old But Young – I’m so sorry for all the problems hysterectomy has caused you! I can certainly relate. I suspect you, like almost all women, were not informed of your treatment options and the many negative effects of hysterectomy. 🙁 A pessary (a device you insert) should have been offered to suspend your organs… no surgery needed. And prolapse surgery doesn’t require removal of the uterus if you have a competent and ethical surgeon who will suspend the uterus just as they suspend the bladder. I wish you the best moving forward.
Thank you for having the courage to speak out. That appears to be the only way we can end this harm of so many women.
WS…Thank you so much for your gentle words. You have taught me something as well because I never heard of a “pessary.” I am going to read up on that and spread the word.
Peace & Love Sister
I am 32, have 2 young daughters and husband. I had a hysterectomy a year ago due to pelvic pain my OB went in and saw my uterus completely attached to my abdominal wall and to bladder and an ovary he cut it all apart the pain was unbearable a month later did a hysterectomy and tore my ureter during procedure found out a week later when urine leaking had a stent placed for 8 weeks. My urologist said my ovaries were enlarged and full of cysts. My pathology report showed adenomyosis and endometriosis 2nd opinion OB said I also have PCOS and surgeon had said my ovaries were beautiful and no need to remove. Now my full time job of 11 years I have lost along with my part time job of 7 years. I am totally exhausted can barely get up to get my daughter ready for school. Housework is so difficult I’m glad when I do anything. I used to work and come home and tidy up, I can’t even get the energy to look for work to at least draw my unemployment. I am seen as being young and appear healthy and told to go look for work. I have always worked since the age of 15 always holding 2 or 3 jobs. It’s not that I’m lazy I just feel drained, I still have a lot of pain since my ovaries should have been removed. I would have never had this hysterectomy had I known I would never be myself again. I was tired from working a lot but not exhausted no matter how much sleep I get.
Julia, I’m sorry you’re suffering these common after effects of hysterectomy. You would likely be suffering even more if your ovaries had been removed. Plus you would have a whole laundry list of increased health risks since our ovaries are essential for good health our whole lives. It’s possible that some of your symptoms are due to impaired ovarian function since hysterectomy has been shown to cause that. As such, hormone therapy may help alleviate some of your symptoms. Best of luck getting the proper help. It’s difficult to find doctors who understand and know the many after effects of hysterectomy. And the surgeons tend to “wash their hands” of us.
A good friend of mine had a hysterectomy and months later is suffering from fatigue and thyroid dysfunction that she attributes to old age. So sad to see another woman suffering from the unethical practices of a gynecologist. Shame on those that destroy the lives of so many women and their families.