Last month I spoke about why you might need to have a hysterectomy and the different types of surgery involved. This month I will look at Hysterectomy and menopause. What you may experience post surgery and how to manage any peri menopausal symptoms that you may experience.
Hysterectomy and Menopause, what to expect
After you have had the surgery it will take some time to recover. As everyone is different it is hard to say exactly how long that will be. This also means you will not be able to do any heavy lifting or driving.
Needless to say, that after the surgery you may begin to experience perimenopausal symptoms – especially if you have had your ovaries removed.
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- ‘Foggy’ brain
- Poor concentration
- Loss of libido
- Disturbed sleep
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight gain
Again, everyone is different so you may experience some, all or none of these symptoms. You might experience mild to severe symptoms. But do not despair, as I am here to help you. I will work with you to support you through this new stage in your life using food as medicine, and herbs if necessary, to help you manage your symptoms.
How to manage symptoms
There several things that you can do with your diet to help manage menopausal symptoms, to reduce the severity. This will allow you to cope better with these changes and, not feel like it is controlling you. Also, if needed I can add herbal supplements to your management plan if changes in diet are not enough.
- Support liver detox, I have spoken about this in a previous blog. Here I have details on how to support your liver detoxification function.
- Add bitter herbs to your salads and other meals where possible – raddish, rocket, watercress, radicchio, etc,
- Add more cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, etc.
- Calcium rich foods– broccoli, sardines, spinach, kale, soy, tahini; for bone health and, insulin/glucose regulation.
- Vitamin D – the best source is sunlight, but there are some foods that can also provide this – eggs, liver, salmon, tuna. Known supporting for bone health but, also supports mood and, insulin/glucose regulation.
- Phyto-oestrogenic foods – these mimic oestrogen, but are not as strong as what you naturally produce. Found in soy, linseed meal, chickpeas, kidney beans, broad beans, alfalfa sprouts, buckwheat, millet, parsley. For some of you, this may not be indicated as it may worsen symptoms, or if you have had breast cancer that is oestrogen induced.
- Vitamin C rich foods – an excellent source of antioxidants, as well as supporting your immune system. It helps to reduce inflammation, supports bone health and protects your heart. Tis is found in all of the red and, orange coloured fruits and vegetables.
- Progesterone rich foods– beans, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, cabbage, nuts, cauliflower, kale
- Nuts and seeds – these are a great source of Vitamin B’s which support energy production, mood, brain function, libido, reducing sleep disturbances and severity of hot flushes. And Zinc, which also supports your immune system and maintains levels; as zinc is lost due to reduced oestrogen levels, via urination. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc.
There are some herbs that can help you to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms post hsytercetomy.
- Black cohosh – main herb to reduce the severity of your hot flushes.
- Wild Yam – reduces the severity of your hot flushes and headaches.
- Red clover – reduces the frequency of your hot flushes, as well as support vaginal health and libido.
- Hops – a phyto-oestrogenic herb that helps you to manage menopausal symptoms, as well as helping you to sleep.
- Sage – is great for reducing severity and frequency of night/day sweats that you may experience.
- Kava – fantastic for reducing any anxiety that you may feel and improving your sleep quality.
The health of your gut and immune system, will have an impact on how effective your perimenopausal symptoms will be managed.
- Eliminate foods to reduce inflammation and support liver detoxification pathways – alcohol, reduce (if possible eliminate) coffee intake, spicy foods, packaged/processed foods.
- Anti inflammatory herbs/food – chamomile tea, Vitamin C foods, Omega 3 rich foods, turmeric.
- Pro and Prebiotic foods – support digestion and, elimination of toxins
- Support good digestion – a high fibre diet supports your bowel function to eliminate toxins, improve nutrient uptake and prevent constipation. It also helps you to maintain a healthy microbiome, promoting digestion, nutrient uptake and, supporting immune system in the intestines.
- Reduce weight with exercises – as adipose fat produces a weak form oestrogen, which for some of you may worsen your symptoms.
- It is cardio protective
- Improves mood
- Helps to reduce stress
- Improves bone strength and mineralisation, preventing osteoporosis
- Improves insulin/glucose function, preventing diabetes. As with reduced oestrogen levels, in some of you, your insulin/glucose function can be affected.
As you can see, there is a lot that can be done support yourself through this new stage of life. I can guide you and, develop a management plan that will allow you to be yourself and live life to the fullest.
Hechtman, L (2012) Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Churchill Livingstone, Sydney.