PCOS and Hysterectomy: Is it a Cure?

It is a large myth that a hysterectomy is a cure for the millions of women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). As the name implies, PCOS does involve the ovaries, a source of excess androgens and the frustrating and unwanted symptoms that go with it.

It would then seem likely that removal of the ovaries would cure PCOS. However so much more is known about PCOS beyond the ovaries and how it changes with age. Here’s what women with PCOS should know about the pros and cons of a hysterectomy and why women can still suffer from the hormonal effects of PCOS even with their ovaries removed.

Hysterectomy and PCOS

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), on average 600,000 American women have hysterectomies every year. A total hysterectomy is an invasive surgery in which the whole uterus and cervix are removed. Sometimes the ovaries and/or Fallopian tubes may also be removed during a hysterectomy.

A partial hysterectomy is when the upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is left in place. Both surgeries can be done laparoscopicly or through manual incision in the abdomen and require approximately six weeks of recovery time.

Some women opt for a hysterectomy as a method of preventing pregnancy. In this case, a hysterectomy may be performed during a c-section. But in most instances, a hysterectomy may be medically needed if you have fibroids, severe endometriosis, excessively heavy periods, severe pelvic pain, or uterine prolapse and may be needed if you suffer from cancer in the reproductive organs (uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes, or ovaries).

Why a Hysterectomy is not a Cure for PCOS

Having a hysterectomy results in what’s called surgical menopause. Your periods stop immediately. Hormone levels drop quickly as compared with the natural and gradual decline seen in menopause. Women who have had a hysterectomy but still have their ovaries, will see a decline in hormone levels and reach menopause earlier. Women who have their ovaries also removed during a hysterectomy will experience greater losses in estrogen and progesterone, which are hormones produced by the ovaries. Here’s some of the problems caused by the loss of these hormones.

Complications associated with a hysterectomy:

  • increased vaginal dryness
  • low sex drive
  • mood changes
  • insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • hot flashes
  • urinary incontinence
  • A hysterectomy also puts a woman at greater risk for osteoporosis due to the loss in estrogen

A hysterectomy is not a cure for PCOS and here’s why.

Androgens are still being produced.

For women with PCOS who have had a hysterectomy and her ovaries removed, she will still experience the long-term effects of having elevated androgens (male sex hormones like testosterone). The adrenal glands also produce testosterone and may be stressed to produce more to keep up with the loss of ovarian production. This means a woman may still suffer from excess hair growth, hair loss or balding, or even acne.

Metabolic problems persist.

While PCOS is a reproductive disorder, it’s also an endocrine disorder. Most women with PCOS have higher levels of insulin and inflammation than women without PCOS. If not well managed, excessive levels of insulin and inflammation can lead to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fatty liver disease. A quick loss of estrogen also increases the risk for these complications.

A hysterectomy will not cure these complications but rather an antioxidant rich whole foods based eating style, regular exercise, good sleep, and stress management will. The right supplements can also help (see below).

Sometimes a hysterectomy is necessary but it’s always worth seeking a second opinion if a hysterectomy has been recommended to you. Depending on the medical problem, there are alternatives to a hysterectomy to relieve pain, heavy periods, or fibroids.

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Help for Older Women with PCOS

If you are an older woman with PCOS and are experiencing more metabolic complications associated with the condition, you may need more aggressive lifestyle management to prevent them from worsening. Here are some recommended tips for older women with PCOS regardless if you have had a hysterectomy or not:

  • Boost your diet with plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. This will help to reduce insulin and inflammation and help to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Exercise regularly for body and mind
  • Consider Ovasitol, an inositol supplement proven to reduce insulin levels and to help manage carbohydrate cravings
  • Consider Berberine as an aggressive way to reduce cholesterol and fatty liver as well as help reduce insulin and possibly body fat
  • Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant to support immune health and to lower cholesterol and insulin. Found in the grapes of red wine, Resveratrol helps combat the effects of aging.
  • Zinc can help reduce hair loss
  • Fish oil can help reduce androgens, inflammation, and triglycerides
  • Calcium is needed to prevent bone loss
  • Vitamin D is important to help with mood, prevent bone loss and fight inflammation
  • Magnesium can promote better sleep, help reduce anxiety and even pain

Do you have PCOS and was a hysterectomy recommended to you? Did you opt for the surgery and if so, what do you experience? If not, what did you do instead?

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Comments (28)
  • Rebecca Milota

    January 18, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I’ve had a total hysterectomy. I’m 58 yrs old and now diabetic. I’ve never had any of the classic signs of diabetes and my diet really had never affected my glucose levels. My question, has anyone ever studied the affects of chasteberry(vitex) on hormone levels and if it reverses or slows diabetes? I’ve noticed my blood sugar levels have dropped a lot since I started taking it along with Invokamet. Hoping to come,off the prescription soon.

  • Angela Grassi

    January 23, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Rebecca, Vitex can reduce testosterone as shown in a small handful of studies done on PCOS women. Studies showing it helps with diabetes are rare. There are other ways to reduce insulin with more research such as inositol and berberine. Both are sold in our store.

  • E

    February 1, 2019 at 9:48 am

    I had one ovary and two fallopian tubes removed. They want to finish the surgery now by removing the other ovary and my uterus. I had a large mass on my ovary and it contained cancer cells. I really don’t want to have surgery again and I’m not excited about going into menopause. I’ve had PCOS for years and was only diagnosed 6 months ago.

  • LaNita Olsen

    February 26, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve had a hysterectomy and was never diagnosed with PCOS but I now realize I meet or met all the markers for PCOS. How would it be diagnosed now?

  • Angela Grassi

    March 9, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    It can be tricky but your doctor should still test your hormone levels. Your past medical history is also important to see if you had irregular cycles, as well as signs and symptoms of high androgens like acne, hair growth and hair loss.

  • Loana

    March 19, 2019 at 11:59 am

    I have PCOS for 27 years, I manage fine until I get a cyst, then for the duration I can’t function at all. The pain puts me down for weeks, no energy and constant migraines. I already have diabetis type 2 because of PCOS, already had a hysterectomy and one ovary removed. In 2 years I just went through cyst number 8! Not to even mention the previous years. Today I’ve decided to have the ovary removed, I am only 40 but I feel 95! I already show signs of menopause, sleeping problems, hot flushes, the list goes on. I know there are different simptomes in women when it comes to PCOS, but I got PCOS PLUS!! This will be surgery number 7! Hopefully the last!

  • Angela Grassi

    March 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Let’s hope!!! Thanks for sharing. Keep fighting!

  • Pamela

    October 7, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    I have been diagnosed with pcos when I was 29. I went through fertility treatment to have my children. I am 43 now and having more problems with it. I just recently ended up in the Er with severe pain from a ruptured cyst. They found my left ovary was enlarged with 2 fatty masses. Doc wants to remove the one ovary only. I suggested a complete hysterectomy. She is hesitant to do it as it will put me in full menopause. My question is has anyone here done a complete hysterectomy with pcos and will it bring on other health issues that I need to be worried about?

  • Chelsea

    January 15, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Hi IAM 26 I have pcos probably since high school I want to remove all of my overies and uterus I don’t want kids at all would this be beneficial to do for my pcos I don’t want to be on birth control and metformin doesn’t work for me and none of the supplements help with producing a period and I’m always having some sort of pain in my stomach and always getting util I’m always tired getting migraine more and more please help

  • Angela Grassi

    January 23, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Hi Chelsea, unfortunately getting your ovaries and uterus may not totally eliminate your pain or symptoms. I suggest meeting with your gynecologist to get to the root of your pain. Perhaps you may have another underlying medical condition such as endometriosis that can be treated.

  • Alison

    January 20, 2021 at 6:31 am

    I am 58 years old was given a full hysterectomy at 42 years old I was taking Ellestee solo 2mg up until 2019 then I was unable to buy them due to production problems I was then prescribed zuermom which I have to say did not suit me I came off them last August 2020 after losing my youngest sister to breast cancer (i have been screened every year for the last 8 years as it is in the family)
    My doctor wanted me to come off them gradually but I chose not too
    Hot flushes from the waist up
    Hair thinning
    Dry skin
    Low moods have started and I know covid isn’t helping
    My weight has increased
    I take Vitamin B C D & E
    I eat lots of vegetables and home cooked foods I don’t like processed things
    I eat cheese and prefer this to anything sweet
    My sugar and cholesterol are 4 and 4.5
    I am classed as obese
    I am going to try these supplements
    I am exercising alot more
    Will do my homework on anti inflammatory foods

  • Erin Tyra

    February 24, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    I really need advice. I have pcos and I’m retaining so much weight. Im constantly feeling like my blood sugar is crashing and I shake uncontrollably. My feet feel like someone is stabbing knives into the bottom of them and they pulsate when I finally get off of them and sit down for the evening. Please help me. I know I need a nutritional diet to abide by.

  • Angela Grassi

    March 25, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Erin, we do provide individual nutrition coaching if you need help. https://www.pcosnutrition.com/nutrition-coaching/ I am wondering if your feet are a sign of low b12? https://www.pcosnutrition.com/vitaminb12/

  • Petty Shackleford

    May 31, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    I had a total hysterectomy at 39. I am now 56. I currently have uncontrolled Type II Diabetes even though I am on 5 different medications. I have fought my weight all my life. I have male pattern baldness but cannot take Biotin because my doctor uses a biotin-based testing matrix for blood tests and I was getting false readings. I have been shaving my face since I was in my early 20s. I have tried every diet known and nothing seems to work. I am seconds away from having to go on insulin. Luckily I have a doctor willing to try other things so I am starting with a dietician tomorrow and hopefully she will be able to get my eating under control. I guess my point here is that a full hysterectomy doesn’t change anything. In fact, it can make the metabolic part worse. I was recently told that removing my ovaries was the worst thing I could have done. Partial hysterectomy yes, full hysterectomy no (for me only – as always, follow your doctor’s advice). I’m glad I found this site and I hope to be able to use the information here to get my doctor more onboard with some alternate techniques. Something is bound to work one day.

  • Angela Grassi

    June 12, 2021 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing! So glad you have sought out help from a dietitian.

  • Debra McCoy

    May 4, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    I am 28 and was diagnosed with pcos birth control and metaformine doesn’t work what else can I try thought about overies being removed but studied more and realized it won’t fix it completely please advice

  • Ashley

    June 29, 2022 at 5:34 am

    I’m 28 years old. Had symptoms since i was 18 and I’ve been diagnosed with pcos since 2019. At the end of 2021 I found out I might also have Endo and pretty sure I have adenomyosis. Drs want to do a laparoscopy to confirm the Endo but I want a hysterectomy. Pain from my periods is unbearable from the adenomyosis along with other symptoms, I feel if I left the ovaries for now I might be able to function better with no period but can still get testing done to figure more out about my pcos. There are no drs even close to being specialists in my state and for the last 4 years I’ve never had any signs of insulin resistance and most other tests show normal. Kids were never even a thought so hysterectomy is looking good? Atleast compared to everything I’m going thru. Any advice would be much appreciated!

  • Michelle hogg

    August 14, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Aug 1st, 2022 I received a hysterectomy leaving both ovaries and cervix.
    I have had hormonal issues since 14 years of age. I did not menstrate for a year and then bleed for up to 10 weeks. Anemia, Infertility and later pelvic pain led me to see an Infertility Dr. During tests a polyp on my uterus was discovered so I had lapriscopic surgery in 2013. Endometriosis, scar tissue, and a tumor were all found during surgery. I was unable to get pregnant after IUI and hormone treatment. The Endometriosis pain subsided for approximately a year and my monthly cycles were slightly more regular. So here we are about two weeks post operation. My pain even unmedicated is less than the Endometriosis pain before. I kept my ovaries because my main concern was to stop the heavy bleeding due to PCOS and with no tubes or uterus that problem was solved. I’ve noticed I have some hormonal acne currently, but for me it’s quality of life over other things. My doctor suggested keeping both ovaries for bone and heart health abd so I’m not thrown into full menopause at 40. If I’m honest I wanted them out, but I’m greatful to not have to take hormones for 20+ years.

  • Kelvin

    September 8, 2022 at 9:01 am

    My girlfriend has PCOS, I am also a medical student, and I would love to know how to best help her and simultaneously expand my knowledge.

  • Angela Grassi

    October 5, 2022 at 10:17 am

    Check out this course we have on PCOS for professionals:https://www.pcosnutrition.com/product/online-pcos-training-course-for-registered-dietitian-nutritionists/

    And books: https://www.pcosnutrition.com/product-category/books/

  • Jenny

    April 6, 2023 at 12:02 am

    I’ve been diagnosed at 12 with PCOS I’m 31 now and I just want my useless uterus and ovaries gone. With nothing helping me with my unbalanced hormones. I’ve tried medications healthy lifestyle changes supplements everything. None of it helped me lose weight or bring back my periods or had even gotten me pregnant. All these other side affects seem worth it compared to thinking I’m pregnant when it’s not even a possibility for me if I get triggered by a pregnant co worker I get all the symptoms and everything with nothing to show for it.

  • Diana Nolting

    May 25, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    I have PCOS had a total abdominal hysterectomy when I was 38, complications trying to preserve ovaries cause 3 surgeries in 4 months first was hysterectomy 2 due to abscess on left ovary and 3rd due to large cyst on right ovary that couldn’t be repaired and had to be removed and bam surgical menopause body couldn’t tolerate HT, fast forward to now, I’m 52, 212 pounds and type 2 diabetic with 2 adjacent masses superior to the posterior nipple line so quick answer..no hysterectomy dose not cure PCOS

  • Kristin M

    June 20, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    I was 37 when I had my total hysterectomy because of me having a nine pound cyst on my right ovary and i was on the verge of havin cervical and ovarian cancer it was either that or lose my life . but at first i was diagnosed with Pcos my doctor put me on metformin to try get my period regular but that wasnt working to my doctor referred me to a surgeon and he told me right away that i needed a hysterectomy .. so i went through with it

  • Angela Grassi

    June 29, 2023 at 10:11 am

    ugh! So sorry to hear this..

  • Lu

    June 25, 2023 at 5:29 am

    I had a full hysterectomy at 29 after years of really bad periods. I had to go private as my G.P basically told me to suck it up. I saw a gynaecologist had loads of tests and scans, outcome was I had endometriosis but she also discovered I had PCOS I had to have a biopsy of one of my cysts as she said it was different to the others. Biopsy came back abnormal cells (my parternal grandmother died of ovarian cancer at 35) I had a son and already knew I didn’t want anymore because of complications when I had him I suffered fits from eclampsia and was lucky to survive. So it was recommended with the abnormal cells and family history to have a full hysterectomy which is what happened. I am now 48 I have several other unrelated health conditions which have left me quite disabled. After years of slow weight gain I reached a point where I had to do something prompted by the death of my father from diabetic heart and kidney failure. There is a big family history of diabetes in my family my dads father died at 27 from diabetes both his sister and brother have it so I was already high risk before the the PCOS and weight gain. So since the start of the year I have lost 32lbs I still have a way to go yet but I am now in the overweight category rather than the moderately obese. Unfortunately I was to late to stop becoming prediabetic but I am hopeful that with the weight loss and new diet it can be reversed although it’s not likely as my sugar levels aren’t improving despite the weight loss.

  • Angela Grassi

    June 29, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sorry for all that you have been through. Keep in mind, there are other things that can reduce your risk for diabetes that don’t have to do with weight loss. If you need help, I do provide nutrition coaching.

  • April

    February 26, 2024 at 6:51 am

    I am 41 and was diagnosed with pcos when I was 23.i had to have a complete hysterectomy when I was 35. I found out I had endometrial cancer. I have to say thing have been harder since my hysterectomy. I gained tons of wait, ended up with type 2 diabetes, can hardly get any sleep. The hot flashes are terrible. And the mood swings. I have never been this moody. I talked to my OB and she keeps trying to convince me that once you have a hysterectomy you no longer have pcos. And I am so thankful to find this site to see this is nit true. I knew something just still isn’t right. I workout 5 days a week eat a healthy diet and the scale just won’t budge. I’m definitely going to give these supplements a try. I’m just tired of getting all the false information. So thank

  • Angela Grassi

    March 18, 2024 at 11:21 am

    Thank you for your comment. I am glad you found us and hope our supplements help you.

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