Seven weeks ago I had an operation to remove a mass over my left ovary, at the same time I gave the OK for the doctors to do anything else providing it was necessary. I ended up having a full hysterectomy at the age of 42 although they did spare me an ovary so that I didn't go through to early a menopause. After infections set in and being generally very poorly for the first 4 1/2 weeks I have been back at work just over a week and although everyone says I look really well I have the feeling of loss of my womanhood. I cry over it, freinds congratulate me at not having to have periods or smears but by not having these two things I feel less of a person. Has anyone else felt like this. I tend to overcompensate now by always having my hair and makeup done even at weekends and instead of pajamas in bed have bought a sexy night dress even though my partner assures me I haven't changed in his eyes. I would love some feedback as I think it must just be me.
It's not just you Molly. I am 45 and I have felt the same way, plus had a lot of crying spells after the surgery that had never had before. In researching it, I found that it's mostly hormone related, and you can't replicate your hormones after your organs are removed.
Through the last year and a half I've noticed a lot of changes that are hard to describe. I was an emotional wreck for about 10 months, and I've had a lot of short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, feelings of loss of maternal instinct. It's really hard to describe but I don't feel like I did all my life, and not in a good way. The problem is that you know you don't feel the same, but outwardly you look the same so no one can see the difference. It's very lonely.
I read that the removal of the uterus causes chemical changes in your body. If they save the ovaries, the damage to the blood supply caused by the amputation of the uterus often causes a decreased ovarian function. It's a chemical shock to your body and you are deprived of the hormonal production you've had all your life.
You are not alone for sure! Hang in there, take care.
I feel the same way too. I had my hysterectomy in 2005 at the age of 33. It was and still is a traumatic experience for me. Aside from the tons of physical symptoms I have had to deal with as a result, including the feminine curvy hips I lost due to surgical menopause and the fat in the middle I gained as a result of my body trying to produce estrogen from my fat cells, I feel a huge sense of loss of myself. I don't feel that maternal instinct either anymore, or that sensuality, and I feel a disconnection from the natural rhythms of my body and it's connection to the earth. It is difficult even now to put into words to describe that loss without sounding strange to people. Even with the horrid pain of endometriosis during my periods, I still looked forward to that natural cycle. I realize now that my hormones and my uterus were very life giving and sexually responsive. I remember too how I used to work with a group of female coworkers, and we all got our periods at the same time. The same phenomenon happened with my Mom and sister when I lived with them. I feel cut off from all of that now. My body feels so dried up and aged.
So many people give the advice that "you are more than your uterus and it does not define you". Of course it doesnt, but it was still a part of me that is gone forever. It was an important part of my female functioning. I think that I will always feel that loss on a physical and spiritual and emotional level, but with time I am trying to heal and work through it. The first year was the absolute hardest for me. Even while still in the hospital I cried and cried. I felt so terribly alone. I hadn't expected it to be so difficult. I was in so much pain physically too. My boyfriend too insists that he still loves me and that I am still beautiful, but he can not understand what this is like.
I am glad to find this thread and to be able to talk about this. There are no cut and dry answers, but just acknowledging our feelings and knowing that it is not just us really helps. Hugs to both of you mollyfox and triple777!
I had a complete hysterectomy at 36 (11 yrs ago). It put me right into menapause. I was on a emotional rollercoaster for about a year.
Looking back now it was the best thing I ever did.
I had terrible PMS, very heavy bleeding and only felt good one week out of the month.
It will get better for you I promise.
I at first felt less than a woman but after thinking about it, I had 3 beautiful boys and was done having babies and only feeling good a few days a month the feelings did pass Plus......I got to wear white all summer long
I never had a chance to have children, and although I did not desire them at the time, it still hurts that that ability (to bear children naturally) is gone. It is an issue that is sometimes a part of feeling like one is less than a woman.
I don't know if that is an issue for you or not molly. I do hope that others will be sensitive when discussing children on a hysterectomy board.
I didn't have children either, but always wanted to. I always had light uneventful periods and PMS was barely noticable. Within a few months of the doctor taking everything, I had severe hot flashes, up to 12 per day, and night sweats so badly that my whole bed was soaked right through to the mattress. I still have a lot of hot flashes and wake up sweating even though I take supplements that help some. I also have chronic abdominal pain now which I never had before. I really miss my former body.
I'm so sorry Elaine, 33 years old is very young to have that option taken away from you. Anyone can change their mind. Plus it would affect any future relationships with someone who wants children. Hugs.
I'm sorry you're feeling this way. It is an adjustment to get used to, but give it time and you'll feel better about everything again.
I did want to comment when you said you wouldn't need Paps again. You should still continue with Paps, even if you had your cervix removed.
I had a total abdominal hysterectomy at the age of 39. My family doctor told met hat since I no longer had a cervix, I didn't need to have Pap tests anymore. I went three years without one, until in 2005, my new family doctor talked me into having a Pap. And it's a good thing that I did. As it turns out, I had severe dysplasia, which later progressed to carcinoma in situ (cancer which hasn't spread yet.) I had to have laser surgery last May, and am still being monitored carefully for any sign of recurrence.
If I'd listened to my first doctor, the cancer may never have been caught in time, and I would never even know that it was there until it was too late.
Go ahead and have your Pap tests. It's a minor inconvenience which can save your life.