Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/6/2022
Every year, about 300,000 women get a hysterectomy. It’s actually the second most common surgery for women, after a C-section.
Along with a number of side effects from this type of surgery, some women experience hair loss — which may be very upsetting. See, some women feel a sense of loss when they have a hysterectomy. So, to also lose some of your hair can feel like salt on the wound.
Wondering how common hair loss is after a hysterectomy? There aren’t exactly numbers, but given what a hysterectomy puts your body through, it’s safe to say that it’s not uncommon.
Read on to find out more about hysterectomies, why they can lead to hair loss and how to treat that hair loss.
A hysterectomy is a surgery that some women have to remove their uterus. When just the uterus is removed it’s called a partial hysterectomy. Often the cervix is also removed. Sometimes, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed during hysterectomy surgery.
When everything is removed, it’s considered a radical hysterectomy.
Because the uterus is gone, women who get hysterectomies can no longer become pregnant and they do not get their period anymore.
Reasons women may need a hysterectomy include:
Endometriosis that doesn’t respond to other treatments
Uterine prolapse (this is when the uterus drops)
Vaginal bleeding that won’t stop despite treatment
Cancer of the uterus, ovaries or cervix
Chronic pelvic pain
A hysterectomy can be performed in a few different ways. First, there’s a vaginal hysterectomy. During this type of surgery, an incision is made at the top of your vagina to remove the uterus.
A laparoscopic hysterectomy is another option. With this procedure, a small camera is inserted into your lower abdomen. Several small incisions are then used and your uterus is removed in small pieces.
Finally, during an abdominal hysterectomy your uterus is removed through a six- to eight-inch incision in your abdomen.
Depending on the type of hysterectomy you have, your recovery will look a little different. If your ovaries are also removed, you can expect to go through menopause right after your hysterectomy.
Menopause induced by a hysterectomy is another reason hair loss may occur. On top of hair loss, symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, vaginal dryness and more.
During menopause your body stops producing estrogen and progesterone — two hormones integral to menstruating.
These hormones are also connected to hair health and growth. So, when hormonal levels dip during menopause, you may notice an affect on your hair. You may also become more sensitive to testosterone — which can lead to hair loss.
Here’s why: Testosterone may attach to androgen receptors in your hair bulbs, as well as to the dermal papillae which regulate hair growth. The result? Your hair follicles might shrink.
This testosterone could also be turned into something called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This can also attach to androgen receptors and cause hair loss.
Some women also undergo hormone replacement therapy after hysterectomy-induced menopause, which can also affect hair health.
Lucky for you, hair loss induced by a hysterectomy is usually reversible — and there are a number of ways you can treat it.
It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best plan of action for your specific case of hair loss. Here, some of the things they may suggest.
It works by stopping testosterone from converting into DHT. Beyond that, it slows down the androgens from being created, which will either prevent or slow hair loss after a hysterectomy that is caused by menopause.
While it’s not completely known how minoxidil works, it’s thought to send a signal to your blood vessels to open up so nutrients and oxygen get to the hair. In addition to this, minoxidil lengthens your hair’s growth period, so more hair follicles are created to replace the hair you lose.
It’s also important to protect the hair you haven’t lost. Afterall, you don’t want to lose more than you already have. These moves can help keep damage at bay and get your strands in good shape.
Use conditioner every time you shampoo your hair to keep hair hydrated. Some research has shown that the hair care ingredient saw palmetto (which is in Hers shampoo) can neutralize the effects of DHT.
Be careful with hot tools. Letting your hair air dry more often than not can cut back on damage. If you are going to use a hot tool, keep it on the lowest setting.
Don’t rock a tight ponytail or bun — it can cause breakage. A loose hair look is a better option for hair health. The same idea applies to weaves and extensions, which can also pull on your hair. Looking for lighter options, they’re easier on your hair.
Add more time between hair color touch-ups and avoid doing multiple services (like relaxing or perming) at once. It’s thought that waiting at least two weeks between services is the way to go to help prevent hair loss.
Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery for women, after C-sections. This procedure involves removing the uterus, cervix and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
After a hysterectomy, many women go through menopause — particularly if the ovaries are removed. Because of the changing hormones menopause caues, it can also lead to hair loss. On top of this, the stress of surgery can also induce the loss of hair.
However, this type of hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent. There are medications you can take to encourage regrowth. It’s also wise to embrace healthy hair habits (like keeping it hydrated) to protect the hair you do have.