I wonder if so many women would “choose” hysterectomy if they knew how it would affect their figure and internal anatomy. I know I would have told my once respected gynecologist “no way” and left never to return if I’d known just a smidgen of what I now know. Here are some of the anatomical and skeletal changes that occur post hysterectomy.
Ligament and Skeletal Changes Post Hysterectomy
An intact woman’s figure has space between the rib cage and the hip bones commonly known as the waist. The waist gives her the curve in her lower back, the natural sway in her hips, her “elongated” torso that’s proportionate to her extremities. This all changes after hysterectomy.
Four sets of ligaments hold the uterus in place. These ligaments are the “scaffolding” or support structures for the core (midsection). When the ligaments are severed to remove the uterus, the spine compresses causing the rib cage to gradually fall toward the hip bones and the hip bones to widen. This causes a shortened, thickened midsection, protruding belly, and loss of the curve in the lower back, giving the appearance of a flat derriere. In some women, these changes cause those hated rolls of fat (weight gain or not). In others, it looks more like a pregnant belly. This can be particularly distressing for women whose hysterectomies denied them the chance to have (more) children.
As if an unattractive figure isn’t devastating enough, these skeletal changes lead to chronic back, hip, and rib cage pain as well as tingling and loss of sensation in legs and feet. It also explains why, even absent osteoporosis, hysterectomized women lose height. With all these changes to the skeletal structure, I wonder if hysterectomy can also cause spinal stenosis. It would certainly seem plausible.
Evidence of my spine compressing started 12 to 18 months post-op. A crease started forming about two inches above my navel. It gradually lengthened over the next 6 months to a year until it became visible all across my midsection. I’ve always been thin (underweight) with flat, toned abs and prominent hip bones. And contrary to what most women experience after hysterectomy, I lost weight. As my spine compressed, my flat abs became “fat” and flabby. My hip bones became less prominent in the front (as my belly pooched out) and more prominent in the back since my rib cage had fallen onto my hip bones. And I now have intermittent back, hip, and rib cage pain as well as tingling in feet. My sacrum / tailbone has also looked bruised since not long after my hysterectomy.
Internal Organs Post Hysterectomy
And how does the body change on the inside? Well for one, it affects the bladder and bowel. The uterus separates the bladder and bowel and holds them in their rightful positions. Removal of the uterus causes these organs to fall impeding function. When the bladder or bowel is full, there can be a feeling of discomfort or even outright pain (exactly what I’m feeling at this moment – constant pain that increases by just walking). Complete emptying can be problematic as can incontinence. Bowels may alternate between constipation and diarrhea. Adhesions can further hamper bowel function even to the point of a life threatening obstruction. I’ve had serious bowel problems ever since my surgery 7 years ago. Chances of bladder, bowel, and vaginal prolapse and fistula also increase leading to more loss of quality of life and future risky surgeries. Hysterectomy has even been shown to increase risk of renal cell (kidney) cancer likely caused by damage to ureters. I have to wonder if functions of other organs may also be affected as our organs don’t work in isolation and may be further affected by the anatomical changes.
Nerves and Sex Post Hysterectomy
And what about sensation after all those nerves and blood vessels are severed? What’s it like having a shortened vagina that’s not connected to anything? Well, it’s no wonder sex isn’t the same! How can it be? And if you enjoyed uterine orgasms, those are obviously a pleasure of the past. Even nipple sensation can be lost because nerve endings are found all along the spine. The severing of nerves as well as scar tissue formation can cause a problem worse than loss of sensation – nerve entrapment which can be quite painful.
I’m not sure which is worse – the hormonal adverse effects or the anatomical and skeletal adverse effects. There’s no doubt though that my body has been drastically altered since the unwarranted removal of my vital female organs.
The adverse effects to a woman’s figure, as well as the many other adverse effects of female organ removal, are detailed in the video “Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs.” Priceless!