Well, today, we’re going to talk about my girlie parts…or lack there of as it’s officially been one year since my hysterectomy.
I wrote this down before the holidays as a topic for today, but in the back of my mind I kind of thought “who cares?!”. Buuuuut during my two week Christmas break, I received FOUR emails from blog readers asking me questions as they’re about to have one (or one sweet reader was in the post-op phase), so it reenforced to me that we should do a quick chat about how things have been going since the big H. Also, I saved all of the questions from my Q&A post and many were about “yeah, but I want to hear how things are going after it’s been a year”, so I’ll answer those too.
One thing that I always want to point out is that I know so many of you have had (or are about to have) hysterectomies due to terrible things like cancer, and your healing process and procedure looks very different from mine. I do not, in any way, want to make light of what you’re going through. I am also so terribly sorry to those of you who are not ready for your hysterectomy. Honestly, my heart breaks for so many of you as I know this surgery is really just a stop on a long road of other health issues and/or you’re not ready to have one for so many reasons. I am so terribly sorry. I want you to know that upfront.
Today’s post is for those of you who are having hysterectomies for a variety of “other” reasons. Honestly? It’s a super short post because 12 months later, I’m feeling great.
First, let’s backtrack…
December 6, 2019, I had my robotic hysterectomy.
Robotic (sometimes called mechanical) hysterectomies are where they make four little incisions in your stomach (three you can see and one in your bellybutton) and then robotically identify and break up what’s coming out. I had everything removed (uterus, ovaries, tubes…all of it), and the entire procedure only lasted 20 minutes! Four little incisions, and we were all done. I spent one night in the hospital and was home the next day.
Here I am one week post-op. I was still sore, moving slowly and unable to lift heavy things, but I was walking daily and healing fairly quickly.
…12 months later, and I’m feeling better than ever! I honestly NEVER think about it (which is so nice because it also means I never think about periods, bleeding, and that stuff either!).
Now what has made me feel so great this last year? Probably hormone replacement therapy.
I have been sharing HRT with you guys for several years now as I’ve been doing it myself for almost 8 years. You can read my HRT Q&A with all of the reasons why I do it, what I think about it, which different versions I’ve tried (I’ve tried so many!) and so much right HERE. You can also read my first post on HRT HERE.
I began my current HRT regimen a few months before my hysterectomy to help me get me and my hormones going in the right direction before my girlie parts were removed. Since my surgery, I’ve continued on the same regimen and right now, all of my levels are in the optimal range. I give myself one injection a week, and that’s it! No pills, no creams, no doctor appointments (just routine bloodwork to make sure my levels are maintaining and/or improving).
Here are the 10 most common questions you guys had for me 12 months post-op about not just the actual surgery, but the twelve months of HRT too.
1: Have you gained weight?
My weight has remained the same throughout this year. I know a lot of you were worried about that being a negative side effect, but honestly, that hasn’t been a problem for me. If anything, I have more energy and feel less drained, so I’m running further and overall, feel much healthier.
2: Do you still need to go for an annual exam?
Yes! I was unsure about this too, but yes, you should still have an annual exam even after your hysterectomy. For years, I was under the impression that the annual exam only checked for certain cancers, but actually, it checks for many other things that we, as women, need checked routinely. Make sure you still get your annual exam.
3: Have you gone through menopause?
Once my parts were removed, I was immediately considered post-menopausal. Many things (night sweats, hormonal acne, poor sleep quality, lack of energy, lack of a sex drive) that are common with menopause can be corrected with the use of HRT. I used to experience many of those symptoms which was one of the main reasons I originally began HRT.
4: Do you get night sweats?
Nope! For me, night sweats and hormonal acne were both signs that my hormones were out of control. I honest to goodness don’t think I’ve had a single night sweat since my surgery.
5: Is your mood stable?
Ha! I think so? Andrew and my kids would probably tell you that my mood still fluctuates…but what busy mom’s mood doesn’t?! I do feel VERY MUCH like I’m less irritable, less sad, have fewer down days and am overall way more constantly upbeat now that my hormones are stable. Without PMS affecting me monthly as well, I feel overall much more in control of my emotions, mood and temperament.
6: Are you glad you did the surgery?
YES!! So many friends told me before the surgery that it would be the best thing I ever did…and now that I’m 12 months post-op, I couldn’t agree more. I have zero regrets.
7: Do you ever think you’ll get off HRT?
I do not. I know that some women remove their ovaries and don’t follow up with HRT, but for me, after talking to my doctors, I don’t think that will ever be an option. I know it sounds daunting and overwhelming and can be expensive, but I’m so glad I’m doing it following my surgery and do not ever see myself stopping. (I’ll put details at the bottom about my specific provider as I think he’s genius and worth an email and/or phone call.)
8: One year out, what do you wish you would have known?
That it wasn’t as scary as I had imagined. (Again, this isn’t for those of you having hysterectomies as a part of another problem like cancer.) I was sore, I was slow to workout and be active again, but overall, I thought it was easier than when I had my tonsils taken out when I was 28. I know everyone is different, but I was more nervous about this procedure and yet it felt easier. I think getting up and walking immediately really helped me. I would rest for most of the day right after the surgery, but would also walk each day too. By the 4 week mark, I was even cleared to begin running and lifting light weights.
9: Do you still struggle with bladder leakage?
Yes, but that’s on my list to get “fixed” in 2021. In my 6 month post-op post, I mentioned how I had never experienced bladder leakage but that it’s the one negative side effect to my hysterectomy and SO MANY OF YOU were encouraging and gave me great advice and suggestions. Unfortunately, that post landed right at the beginning of COVID, so I tabled that “to do” until things calmed down a bit. Thanks to YOUR encouragement, I am going to work on that issue this year. (Seriously read the comment section of that post if you struggle with this too!).
10: How long before you felt normal again?
I had my surgery on December 6th and by January 6th, I felt totally normal. The only time I was reminded of the surgery was getting out of bed from the laying position. That still felt “off” for about 6 weeks. I was working out, driving, taking care of my kids and living my normal life without any complications. It truly didn’t take long at all.
I posted this on my 6 month post, but I want to share it again. I get it…giving yourself an injection perhaps sounds crazy/scary/weird/insane, but for me, HRT has been a major part of my well being over the last few years and finally finding a method that is easy and effective has really improved my quality of life. I was encouraged to get my hormones checked out by a friend at church and over the years, I’ve met more women who have begun HRT only to truly feel like their best selves (women of all ages!), so I want that for you too. You can find Dr. Riegel at The Riegel Center. He assures me that he and his staff treat patients all over the US, so even if you’re not local, don’t feel like you can’t reach out. I’m a big believer in skin checks, mammograms and women taking control of their own health and well being. Having a hysterectomy and getting my ovaries removed was made so much easier because I already had a firm hormone replacement therapy plan in place.
Twelve months later, and I’m feeling like my best self (probably better!). When I was considering my options and looking for information, I was fortunate to have several friends who had already done this, but I know some of you might feel alone. I just want you to know that even though it is major surgery and the decision should be taken very seriously and only when completely necessary…that it was a positive experience for me. If you have very specific medical questions about the surgery, contact your OBGYN (just a reminder, I changed OBs to find one who specializes in this type of surgery, don’t be afraid to get multiple opinions!) or if you have HRT questions, ask Dr. Riegel. If you have “Shay questions”, I can handle those! I will try and answer them all in the comment section of today’s post.
Here are quick links for you to reference from me as well:
Hormone Replacement Therapy PART ONE
Hormone Replacement Therapy PART TWO
Original Hysterectomy Post
Hysterectomy & HRT Q&A
Hysterectomy 6 Month Post-OP
I’m so thankful for this community! Thank YOU for letting me feel comfortable enough to share this stuff with you. xx