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I’m a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping you eliminate your PCOS symptoms with sustainable and realistic nutrition changes.

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Hysterectomy For PCOS: Will It Cure Your Symptoms?

If you’re struggling with PCOS, you may be wondering: does a hysterectomy cure PCOS? While the name polycystic ovarian syndrome does indicate that your ovaries are the problem, it’s actually a myth that removing your uterus or ovaries will cure your PCOS.

This blog post will discuss what a hysterectomy is, which PCOS symptoms it may improve, and why it isn’t a cure for PCOS.  

photo of a floral uterus with text overlay stating will a hysterectomy cure PCOS?

What Is A Hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. It’s a common surgical procedure performed for certain medical conditions such as abnormal bleeding, uterine fibroids, uterine prolapse, adenomyosis, endometriosis, or gynecologic cancers.

There are different types of hysterectomies that can be done depending on someone’s specific medical needs. They include:

  • Total hysterectomy: removes the entire uterus and the cervix
  • Partial hysterectomy: removes the entire uterus but leaves the cervix behind
  • Radical hysterectomy: removes the entire uterus, cervix, and top portion of the vagina (most commonly done for cancer treatments)

After a hysterectomy, you will not be able to become pregnant and you won’t have a menstrual cycle again. 

A hysterectomy may or may not be combined with an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) or a salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes). When the ovaries are removed, it’s commonly referred to as surgical menopause. 

While polycystic ovarian syndrome literally seems to indicate that your ovaries are the problem, a hysterectomy with removal of the ovaries surely seems like a plausible cure, right? Let’s dive into how a hysterectomy may impact PCOS. 

Does A Hysterectomy Cure PCOS?

The short answer: no. A hysterectomy will not cure PCOS. It may help improve or eliminate certain symptoms of PCOS, such as irregular periods, but it will not cure your PCOS. Let me explain why. 

According to the CDC, PCOS affects 6-12% of women of reproductive age in the United States (1). Wording it this way pushes the false narrative that PCOS is a reproductive or fertility issue, and that once you’re past a certain age, it’s no longer a concern. In reality, PCOS is actually an endocrine disorder. 

PCOS is a syndrome that has a range of symptoms. Some common symptoms of PCOS include: 

  • Weight gain
  • Irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Hirsutism (excess hair growth – particularly facial and body hair)
  • Acne
  • Mood swings

These symptoms can often be traced back to a few different root causes: insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and/or adrenal dysfunction.

infographic on the pros and cons of a hysterectomy for pcos.

Why Won’t A Hysterectomy Cure PCOS?

A hysterectomy unfortunately cannot correct the underlying metabolic abnormalities that are usually present with PCOS such as insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. 

Up to 80% of women with PCOS are insulin resistant (2). Insulin resistance can cause weight gain (particularly something called PCOS belly), increased hunger, and carb cravings. It also puts you at an increased risk for certain health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.

High insulin levels can cause your ovaries to increase testosterone production, which can lead to symptoms such as irregular periods, hair loss, hirsutism, and acne. By removing the ovaries with a hysterectomy, you may be able to decrease your testosterone levels by a little bit.  

Unfortunately though, androgens (aka male hormones like testosterone) aren’t only produced by the ovaries. Your adrenal glands also make androgen hormones like DHEA-S and testosterone, so someone without ovaries can still struggle with high levels of androgens. Excess androgens will cause symptoms like hirsutism and hair loss to persist even after removing the ovaries.

Additionally, chronic inflammation is associated with the pathogenesis of PCOS (3). Unfortunately, inflammation doesn’t go away with a hysterectomy either. Chronic inflammation is linked to the development of several chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, depression, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers (4).

To sum it up, a hysterectomy with oophorectomy (uterus and ovaries removed) can solve any sort of menstrual cycle irregularities and may decrease some symptoms of high testosterone levels. But, it cannot cure PCOS and symptoms of insulin resistance and inflammation will still be present if they were present before. Additionally, even without ovaries, the adrenal glands can produce testosterone and cause symptoms.

How To Manage PCOS

While a hysterectomy cannot cure PCOS, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms and live your best life! Let’s talk about what some of those things are. 

Balanced Diet

The foods you eat can have a big impact on the underlying root cause of your PCOS symptoms, such as insulin resistance and inflammation. There’s a lot of chatter on social media about the best diet for PCOS, however, research hasn’t proven that there is one superior diet for PCOS. 

I take a balanced approach to eating well for PCOS because it’s realistic and sustainable for most people. 

While everyone is different, here are a few key highlights of a balanced PCOS diet:

  • Including a wide variety of whole foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fat sources
  • Eating every 3-5 hours throughout the day. This usually looks like 3 meals per day and sometimes snacks.

If you need more help pulling this info together, don’t miss this great post: A Dietitian’s 7 Day PCOS Diet Plan PDF

infographic on how to manage PCOS.

Movement

When we generally talk about exercise, people usually think of drip-sweating exercise. While this can help to improve your heart health, it’s not the only thing that can benefit you. Movement you enjoy, in any form, is what we’d like to see here. Walking, yoga, pilates, swimming, HIIT, strength training or dancing can all count towards your movement.

Sleep

It’s so easy to overlook, but quality sleep should really be a priority! We don’t often equate sleep to hormones, but it’s really intertwined. After a crappy night’s sleep, your cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin are just a few hormones that can suffer…and this just throws other hormones out of balance.

Stress Management

Chronic stress can really wreak havoc on your hormone health. By learning ways to manage your stress on a routine basis, you can help to improve your PCOS symptoms and quality of life. Journaling, yoga, walking, meditation, or a hot bubble bath are a few popular ways to reduce stress. 

Check out: PCOS Self-Care: 10 Natural Ways To Manage Your Health.

Medications and/or Supplements

In addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle changes, medications and/or supplements can be considered too after a discussion with your healthcare provider. Metformin and birth control pills are two of the commonly prescribed medications to manage PCOS symptoms. 

Many people are also interested in more natural treatment options for PCOS. As more research comes out, it seems that supplements may be able to play an important part in your PCOS management strategy. 

Check out some of these posts on popular PCOS supplements:

8 Ovasitol Benefits for PCOS

Best Supplements for PCOS Weight Loss

Best Magnesium for PCOS: Benefits, Best Form, & Brands

A Dietitian’s Review of Happy Hormones PCOS Multivitamin

The PCOS Supplement Guide – your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the most popular PCOS supplements!

FAQs

Can PCOS be treated with a hysterectomy?

A hysterectomy can help to manage certain symptoms of PCOS, such as irregular menstrual cycles. If the ovaries are removed also (oophorectomy), you may notice a decrease in symptoms caused by high testosterone such as hair loss or hirsutism (aka excessive hair growth). However, a hysterectomy will not cure PCOS since it’s a lifelong condition. Even after a hysterectomy, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation may still be present (if present beforehand); the adrenal glands can also produce testosterone so you may still struggle with these types of symptoms.

Do you still have PCOS after ovaries are removed?

Unfortunately, yes, PCOS is a lifelong condition. If your ovaries have been removed (oophorectomy), you may notice a decrease in certain symptoms but you’ll likely continue to experience other symptoms. 

Will a hysterectomy cure insulin resistance?

No, a hysterectomy will not cure insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a metabolic disturbance and hormonal imbalance. It can be managed effectively with diet and lifestyle changes though.

The Bottom Line

There aren’t any shortcuts that will cure your PCOS, including a hysterectomy. Since PCOS is actually an endocrine condition, a hysterectomy may only improve irregular periods and some symptoms of high testosterone. Other symptoms such as insulin resistance, inflammation, and high androgens will remain.

To effectively manage your symptoms long-term, a balanced diet, movement, adequate sleep, and stress management are key. Medications and supplements may also be considered after a conversation with your healthcare provider. 

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Disclaimer: this is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for or replace professional medical advice for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other medical condition. Always talk to your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations regarding your unique medical history and individual needs.

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