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Managing Weight Gain After a Hysterectomy

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: KJ Fitness,Ink • updated: 10/1/2010

Weight gain after a hysterectomy is common. Once you’ve recovered from surgery, changing your daily habits along with consulting your doctor on medications can help you manage your weight.

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    Causes of Weight Gain After Hysterectomy

    Weight gain after a hysterectomy is common. This post-surgery weight gain is usually due to one of two culprits: lack of activity during recovery or the onset of menopause.

    Decrease in activity. Women who undergo abdominal hysterectomies face long recovery times—a common factor in any major surgery. While most women feel better after six weeks, it can take up to six months to fully recover from abdominal hysterectomy surgery. During that time, doctors advise limiting physical activity and staying away from lifting heavy objects. Most women will also experience a lack of energy that leads to shy away from getting exercise.

    There is a link between the lack of activity during recovery time and weight gain after hysterectomy. The explanation is simple: When a person continues to eat the same amount of food they typically ate before surgery but gets less activity, they gain weight. Expend fewer calories than you eat over the course of several month, and you’ll see a significant weight gain over several months.

    The Onset of Menopause. If a woman’s ovaries are removed during her hysterectomy, she will start menopause immediately following the surgery. Since the ovaries produce hormones, removing them causes an unnatural imbalance that has several side effects. One frequent complaint is weight gain.

    Menopause and weight gain go hand in hand. There’s a natural decrease in metabolism during menopause due to the aging process, and a slower metabolism combined with decreased activity level and hormonal imbalances often cause weight gain. Women who gain weight during menopause also commonly notice that they gain weight around their mid-sections. The appearance of weight in this area is related to hormone imbalances.

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    Weight Management

    Exercise

    It is possible to manage weight gain after hysterectomy by making some simple changes to your daily habits. Once your doctor has signed off that you’re OK for physical activity, combining exercise with a healthy diet will help you manage or lose weight.

    If you don’t get regular exercise, getting just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can have a major effect on your metabolism. Add strength training to your routine, and you’ll be doing your body a favor on a number of levels: strength training increases bone strength and builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat.

    Diet

    Changing your diet is also essential to manage weight gain after hysterectomy for many women. Beginning in the 40s, metabolism naturally slows, making daily caloric needs lower. If you continue to eat like you did when you were younger, you’ll continue to gain weight. That’s not to say that you can never eat cake again. You can certainly indulge in junk foods every once in a while, but your main diet should consist of a healthy balance of nutritious foods including veggies, fruits, and good sources of fat.

    Other Treatments

    Working with a doctor to examine your hormone treatments may also help you manage weight gain. Every woman responds differently to hormone treatment, and tweaking the combination of medications you take may affect your weight.