Weight Gain After Hysterectomy – Expert Strategies to Overcome Weight Gain

Weight gain after hysterectomy is a common fear after a hysterectomy.hysterectomy weight gain

Hysterectomy surgery doesn’t cause or make a woman more predisposed to weight gain. Rather, it is what happens during and after hysterectomy recovery that all too frequently contributes to unnecessary weight gain.

Read on now for help to overcome weight gain after hysterectomy surgery with:

  • The main causes of weight gain after hysterectomy; and
  • How to overcome weight gain after hysterectomy; diet, exercise and routine.

A. Causes of Weight Gain After Hysterectomy

Weight gain after hysterectomy usually results from:

  • Moving less;
  • Eating more;
  • Boredom;
  • Loneliness;
  • Increased time at home;
  • Emotional eating;
  • Fear of recommencing exercise; and
  • Confusion about safe exercise options.

With a straight forward hysterectomy the ovaries are not removed and there is no direct effect on a woman’s oestrogen levels or body weight. Weight gain after hysterectomy can be more likely when hysterectomy is combined with removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) owing to decreased oestrogen levels.

B. How to Overcome Weight Gain After Hysterectomy

1. Healthy Diet After Hysterectomy

A healthy diet is vital during hysterectomy recovery. Your diet includes everything you eat and drink post operatively. During recovery from surgery the body Hysterectomy weight gainrequires good nutrition for healing, recovery and immune function. Hysterectomy recovery involves moving less and expending far less energy than usual making some women more prone to weight gain.

Your internal wound takes up to 3 months to repair after a hysterectomy. During this time make everything you eat and drink count towards your recovery with nutrients that promote repair. This is definitely not a time to skimp on your nutrition. Healthy eating for weight management and weight loss postoperatively requires the following;

Tissue repair requires protein, iron, zinc and vitamin C

  • Include lean meat and leafy salad, plus strawberries, orange wedges and blueberries as an example of a nutritious post-op meal;
  • Eggs and fish are high in protein for repair;
  • Low fat dairy foods promote repair and assist with weight management;
  • Try fruit smoothies made on low fat milk and low fat yogurt.

Fibre is important for keeping your bowels regular

Constipation and straining needs to be avoided post-operatively. Carbohydrates such as cakes, sweet muffins, biscuits and pastries should be avoided or kept to a minimum. To keep bowel movements soft and avoid constipation choose:

  • Wholemeal breads with protein toppings;
  • Wholemeal cereals with low fat milk;
  • Brown rice or pasta salads;
  • Vegetable soup is a nourishing low fat option;
  • Fruit and vegetables especially for snacks.

Avoid foods high in fats and sugars

When the body turns these foods into fat, valuable vitamins are wasted. Low fat food choices include:

  • Low fat dairy milk and yogurt;
  • Using oil sparingly in cooking and dressings;
  • Avoiding fatty spreads on bread.

Drink plenty of water

Water assists fibre to function for healthy bowel movements after a hysterectomy. Most women need to consume approximately 2 litres of water daily. Some women may have altered fluid requirements for a range of medical reasons and they need to be guided by their medical advice. Avoid alcohol postoperatively and choose to drink water, herbal teas or low joule drinks if you desire a sweet option.

Helpful diet tips to avoid weight gain after hysterectomy:

  • Plan your meals in advance of your surgery so that you have nutritious food available for when you are at home;
  • Avoid stocking up on snack foods prior to surgery;
  • Avoid consuming unnecessary empty calories in deserts and alcohol;
  • Be honest with yourself about everything you put in your mouth- every bit counts;
  • Have some healthy meals frozen ready for when you don’t feel well enough to cook; and
  • If someone else is shopping for you have a list of pre-planned healthy foods written in advance, you may not feel up to planning when you return home.

2. Exercise after Hysterectomy

Regular appropriate exercise during hysterectomy recovery can minimise loss of fitness and other unwanted hysterectomy side effects. Exercise can also help emotional well being. Hysterectomy recovery exercise is never directed at weight loss during early hysterectomy recovery. Appropriate exercise is part of a holistic approach to looking after your body that includes avoiding unnecessary hysterectomy weight gain.

Safe exercise after a hysterectomy usually consists of:

  1. Continuing those exercises given in hospital including: deep breathing, circulation and bed mobility exercise.
  2. Regular progressive walking for the first 6-8 weeks post operatively as instructed by your medical specialist.
  3. When you are given medical approval to recommence general fitness exercise after a hysterectomy, then workouts can be gradually directed more towards hysterectomy weight loss exercise and weight management.

Confusion regarding safe exercise after pelvic floor surgery is a common problem. For more information regarding pelvic floor safe exercise after a hysterectomy refer to Inside Out – The essential women’s guide to pelvic support by Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist.

3. Establish a Good Daily Routine

When you feel well enough try to plan and establish a simple home routine for yourself. Having some form of routine can help to avoid boredom and overeating.

Your routine may be a general idea of the order of your daily activities from showering, meals, home exercises and rest. Be flexible with your routine as there will be days when you feel tired and require more rest than usual.

Plan your daily activitiesWeight gain after a hysterectomy

Plan a variety of appropriate activities for your early recovery. Having some basic activities ready on hand can help to stay occupied and avoid weight gain after hysterectomy and allow you to rest and recover. Some women like to:

  • Read (visit the local library before your surgery or stock up on those magazines you like to read);
  • Watch movies;
  • Listen to music;
  • Embroider/ light sewing;
  • Sit in the garden;
  • Organise photos; or
  • Complete crosswords/puzzles.

4. Enlist Emotional Support

Contact with friends and family can provide emotional support and company especially if you are feeling a little low. Friends and family will be getting on with their busy lives and may not understand how you are feeling post hysterectomy. Contact with friends maybe worth planning on a weekly basis when you feel well enough. This can be as simple as picking up the phone and having a chat or organising a short outing when you feel well enough.

If you can incorporate these 4 simple strategies into your post-operative home routine, you will be more likely to avoid and/or overcome weight gain after hysterectomy.

Focusing on healthy eating and sensible exercise may have benefits for improving your overall health and well being long-term.

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises for Avoiding Post-Operative Complications eBook

Hysterectomy Recovery Exercises Book 1with Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Michelle Kenway

Physical Therapy exercises and techniques help you move well and exercise safely to avoid major complications and common side effects of hysterectomy including:

  1. Moving safely
  2. Minimising pain
  3. Preventing some major hysterectomy complications (e.g. chest problems)
  4. Managing and avoid common hysterectomy side effects (e.g. constipation, lower back pain, gas, bladder emptying)
  5. Minimising loss of fitness after surgery
  6. Resuming appropriate activity after surgery.

Includes exercises for constipation, gas pain, lower back pain, moving in and out of bed and safe return to activity after hysterectomy. READ MORE NOW

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support, along with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.

 

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Comments

  1. I wish I searched for this info while i was stuck in bed for 3 months. I never in my life had a belly sticking out like i do now from a partial Hysterectomy. It’s been 3 months. I used to be size 4 and now the 8 is snug on me. Ohmylord please help me!
    I’ve been sort of active, i have a dog and i took her out from the second day after my surgery, walked in 90 degree angle bent by the hips, i couldn’t stand up straight.
    I gained weight, and now i have this stomach, it is still sensitive when i put my workout pants on, which are elastic, and it hurts from the pressure. Clearly my clothes are too small, but i figured i will drop the weight once i start moving around, but this stomach???? Doesn’t seem to budge. I lived my life with 6pack abs (I’m 39), and now I end up kicking myself on the stomach when I try to put my boots on, it’s terrible. I need to have my clothes fit me so I can go to work! I refuse to buy fat stomach clothes. Or is this it? Am i gonna have to learn to live with a stomach? I signed up at orange theory fitness, if you know what that is, i hope it’s a good idea, pretty intense.

    • Forgot to add, a tumor was also removed, they said it was endometriosis and that it was attached to 5 of my organs ans the doctor scraped it off of my organs. So i wonder if that makes recovery longer inside my belly, if that’s why I’m still swollen? Or am i just plain fat? But it hurts a little bit. My pants hurt around the belly.

      • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

        Hi Samantha
        It sounds as though you’ve had an awful time. The best thing to do is to see your doctor. He/she needs to run some tests if appropriate or reassure you that it’s weight gain. You may still have some swelling which may be prominent because you’re normally so small. I would advise against intense exercise at the moment especially in view of the fact that your stomach is painful even from your pants. Exercising at high intensity is most likely not appropriate at the moment and if your doctor supports this he/she may be able to write you a letter to support this fact so that you don’t get billed by the fitness centre if you’re unable to attend. Find out what’s going on as a priority and then start recovering from that point with low intensity low impact exercise (stationary bike and walking are usually most appropriate). I’ll be keen to hear how things go for you if you have time to reply. Take care and all the best

  2. What are some ways to get back into exercise after a hysterectomy months prior? Also are there any suggestions on different diets/healthy eating that would help me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it!! I am not a big eater and I just can’t seem to get the weight off .

    • Author: Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says

      This can be challenging Amy. A good approach is to take things slowly – start with walking and stationary bike that uses the large leg muscles and burns fat. Intervals of 10 mins can accumulate during the day and have a fat burning effect equivalent to one long bout of exercise. Gradually increase the time spent exercising and the intensity. Ideally aim towards 50 mins of exercise for a fat burning effect when this seems manageable. Its also important to mention that abdominal swelling can remain for quite some time causing bloating which may give the tummy an appearance of being larger than it actually is. Lower impact exercises are appropriate such as dancing, hiking, stair climber, elliptical machine and water exercise too. I hope this gives you a good starting point Amy, all the best for your return to fitness.

  3. Heres a guys point a view. 1. I’m on here looking for a solution for my wife. That has gained weight in her mid section. After a hysterectomy performed a year ago. 2. The theory women don’t gain weight after this. Is fiction! Although your life is more important. Than a few pounds. 3. Both of us workout and eat healthy. All her thyroid test come back good. 4. Hormone pills a endless cycle. If you have any good ideas. Our ears are or eyes in this case are open. Either way. Ill say it again. Your life is more important ladies. Good Luck. God Bless.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Dave
      Great to hear from a concerned helpful male partner! Yes if your wife had early menopause there is a shift of weight with menopause from the hips to the abdomen, this is a scienfic fact, not fiction. The fat disrtibution changes with menopause. If you are eating well, then weight loss can be promoted through appropriate exercise. A great strategy is the high low intensity exercise from the fat lab an University NSW you can read about here – otherwise increase the amount of moderate intensity fat burning exercise perofmrd using the large leg muscles (fat burners) e.g. brisk walking, cycling, elliptical, hiking but needs to be something your wife likes doing.
      Best of luck!
      Michelle

  4. ANAGHA PAWAR says

    Is it true that weight has to be considered 2kg less after hysterectomy. If i am 50 kg , the real weight i should consider is 48. Plz reply.

    • Michelle Kenway says

      Hi Anagha
      I am not quite sure what you mean by this question – if you mean that after a hysterectomy you should weigh 2kg less, than I would think there is no truth to this at all. Women will have different amounts of weight loss as a result of fasting for surgery, fluid loss, weight of the uterus, so there can be no accurate prediction of postoperative weight loss.

      I hope this is what you are seeking to understand and that it answers your question Anagha
      Michelle

  5. charmaine says

    Great stuff

  6. thankyou for sending very useful and informative topics on hysterectomy

    • Yoga and cycling exercise after prolapse and hysterectomy surgery

      Hi Roberta

      Thanks so much for your lovely communication and feedback. Yes coughing does play havoc with the pelvic floor as you would be well aware of from nursing and personal experience. I believe the heavy lifting associated with years of nursing others also takes it’s toll on the pelvic floor. Have you learnt ‘The Knack’ or a lift and squeeze of the pelvic floor muscles before and during any increase in pressure on the pelvic floor such as with a cough. This is really worth knowing, especially for women with chronic chest problems.

      I can give some general information regarding the exercises you have mentioned in relation to post prolapse and hysterectomy recovery. Cycling is a lovely form of low impact cardiovascular exercise. Do you have soft gel sear covers in Canada? They can be useful for comfort when sitting in the saddle. Always good to start with short cycle sessions, avoid prolonged sitting in the saddle and avoiding high gears and hills to minimise pressure on the pelvic floor.

      Yoga is tricky as there is such a variety of styles and poses not to mention instructor preferences for exercises. In general avoid or modify those exercises that involve intense core abdominal muscle work with plank and the like. Even supine roll up/roll down uses the upper abdominal muscles and these types of more intense core exercises are best avoided for pelvic floor safe exercise post prolapse surgery. Some yoga exercises involve wide deep leg squats and wide leg bending forward poses which are also likely to increase pressure on the pelvic floor. In many cases such exercises can be readily modified within the class setting.

      I hope this helps you exercise and enjoy your retirement Roberta, thanks again for your contribution.
      Michelle

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