Women have hysterectomies to relieve symptoms of fibroids, endometriosis or other health issues connected to hormonal imbalance. Many doctors present hysterectomy as the only option, but do your homework-there are alternatives to this surgery that you should learn about. If you've decided to have a hysterectomy, you will likely experience a hormonal imbalance, at least temporarily. Knowing how to balance your hormones will improve your physical and emotional health.
Find a doctor, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy before you have your hysterectomy. Most doctors prescribe a combination of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, but studies show that taking synthetic hormones is a health risk. Bioidentical hormones pose fewer, if any, health risks. Phone local compounding pharmacies and ask for referrals to health care providers who prescribe bioidentical hormones.2
Call the health care providers referred to you by compounding pharmacies, and ask whether they take your health insurance. Then ask about the costs of office visits, lab work and other tests and procedures that balance hormones, and use this information to choose your hormone specialist. Know that even if your insurance doesn't cover some or all of these costs, treatment doesn't have to be expensive, and the health benefits of using bioidentical rather than synthetic hormones following hysterectomy are priceless.3
Visit the hormone specialist of your choice, a few months before surgery, if possible. Ask him or her to do a hormone panel on you before surgery, to use it as a baseline to help balance your hormones after surgery. Women who have higher estrogen levels before surgery suffer the most discomfort after hysterectomy, and knowing your levels beforehand helps your hormone specialist decide what hormone levels you might need during the first few weeks or months.4
Continue seeing your hormone specialist regularly. If menopausal symptoms persist, the specialist might repeatedly change your prescribed levels of certain hormones; be patient, and write down your emotional and physical symptoms every day. Share your daily record of symptoms with your specialist at each visit. Many hormone specialists find the symptoms of their patients more useful than blood or spit tests in selecting hormone levels for patients.5
Change your diet to help your hormones balance. Many chemicals affect the hormones, so eat only organic fruits and vegetables after your hysterectomy. Cut down on processed foods, and take red meat and all dairy products out of your diet-stop eating hamburgers, steaks, milk, breads or crackers containing milk or whey, cheese, yogurt, sour cream and butter. If you can't do without meat, buy hormone-free meat.6
Avoid petrochemicals as much as possible; these interfere with female hormone balance. Use earth-friendly, natural products, such as vinegar, baking soda or "green" cleaning products from health stores to clean your home. Also, avoid plastic containers when storing food, and stay away from pesticides after your hysterectomy.7
Work out several times a week. Exercising at a high heart rate can have a negative affect on hormone levels, so put on a heart rate monitor and stay in a low zone for your heart. Exercise wards off the depression and anxiety that sometimes occurs after hysterectomy helping to keep your hormones in balance.