Weight gain is a common concern for many women considering a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is surgery to remove a woman’s uterus, and sometimes the cervix and ovaries as well. It is a major procedure, so it is natural to have questions about how it might affect your body.
It is common for women to gain some weight after having a hysterectomy. However, the amount of weight gain varies from woman to woman. Some factors that influence weight gain include:
- The type of hysterectomy performed
- Hormonal changes
- Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise
While modest weight gain is common, significant weight gain is not inevitable. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and monitoring hormone levels can help minimize weight gain.
Weight Gain Statistics
Studies show that the average weight gain after a hysterectomy is about 5 pounds. However, there is a wide range when looking at individuals.
In one study, researchers found:1
- 25% of women lost weight
- 25% of women gained 0-5 lbs
- 25% gained 6-10 lbs
- 25% gained more than 10 lbs
So while gaining a small amount of weight is common, not all women will gain weight after a hysterectomy. Weight changes vary from person to person.
Weight Gain by Type of Hysterectomy
The type of hysterectomy performed also influences weight changes:
|Type||Average Weight Gain|
|Partial hysterectomy (removing just the uterus)||3 lbs|
|Total hysterectomy (removing uterus and cervix)||5 lbs|
|Hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy (removing uterus, cervix, and ovaries)||7 lbs|
More extensive surgeries tend to result in more weight gain on average. This is often attributed to the more dramatic hormonal changes with removal of the ovaries.
What Causes Weight Gain After a Hysterectomy?
There are several factors that influence weight changes after a hysterectomy:
Hormonal changes after surgery likely play a role in weight gain for some women. During a hysterectomy, the ovaries may be removed, causing a sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. Even without ovary removal, hormone levels can fluctuate.
Estrogen in particular has effects on body weight. Low estrogen has been linked to decreased metabolism and increased belly fat storage after menopause. Therefore, hormonal changes from a hysterectomy can make weight management more difficult.
Loss of Muscle Mass
After any major surgery, patients are less active during recovery. This reduction in activity can lead to some loss of muscle mass. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, this muscle loss translates to a slower metabolism.
It takes effort to rebuild muscle after surgery. Without strength training and activity, muscle loss can contribute to weight gain.
Some women report increased appetite or cravings after a hysterectomy, leading to emotional or comfort eating. The reasons for this are complex, but may be related to psychological effects from the surgery.
Even without ovary removal, a hysterectomy can trigger feelings of depression or loss that make women more vulnerable to emotional eating. Added stress during recovery can amplify these issues.
Changes in Lifestyle
Finally, simple changes in diet and exercise habits after surgery can lead to weight gain. During recovery, it’s normal to be less active for a period of time. But if women don’t eventually reintroduce exercise, weight gain can occur.
It’s also easy to fall into patterns of overeating comfort foods as part of the recovery process. If women continue unhealthy dietary patterns, excess weight gain can result.
Managing Weight After a Hysterectomy
While some weight gain is common after a hysterectomy, women do have control over their lifestyle habits. Here are some tips that can help minimize weight gain:
Eat a Healthy Diet
Focus on getting plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant-based protein, and healthy fats. Avoid added sugars and processed foods, which tend to promote weight gain. Meal planning and prep can help ensure you have healthy options available.
Slowly increase physical activity during recovery. Start with short walks, building up to more vigorous exercise. Make strength training part of your routine as well to maintain muscle mass. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Consider Hormone Therapy
If your ovaries were removed, discuss hormone replacement with your doctor to balance estrogen levels. Proper hormone balance can help minimize menopausal weight gain.
See a Nutritionist
Consulting with a nutritionist can help develop healthy eating habits tailored to your needs. A dietitian can identify any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances that may be contributing to weight gain.
Check Thyroid Levels
Heavy bleeding from uterine fibroids can sometimes mask an underactive thyroid. Have your thyroid levels checked after surgery to ensure proper functioning.
Make stress management part of your routine through yoga, meditation, journaling, or other relaxing activities. This can help avoid emotional eating during recovery.
Talk to friends, join a support group, or seek counseling if you are struggling with emotions and eating habits after surgery.
Some weight gain is common after a hysterectomy, with the average around 5 pounds. But the amount varies widely – some women gain no weight, while others gain significantly more. Factors like surgery type, hormones, muscle loss, and lifestyle all influence weight changes.
While modest weight gain may be inevitable, women can take steps to minimize excess weight by eating healthy, staying active, managing stress, and getting support. With proper self-care, it’s possible to maintain a healthy weight after a hysterectomy.