20 answers

Headaches Post Hysterectomy, Help

I had a preventative hysterectomy 6 weeks ago, due to high risk of cancer. I had breast cancer almost 2 years ago now and can not take hormones because my cancer was hormone sensitive. Ever since the hysterectomy, I have an almost constant headache. I use to get 1 migraine a month prior to my period. I take imitrex which has never seemed to help that much because it makes me so tired and out of it. Now the doctors have me taking Effexor xr, which is an anti-depressant that has been shown to help with sleep, hot flashes, and headaches. I have tried it 2 other times and don't like the way it makes me feel( jittery, heavy headed, extreme hunger and thirst). Also I still have the headache. The doctor wants me to try it again but for a longer time period, but I don't think I can stand it. So my question is has anyone taken effexor before, and did you have side effects? Did the side effects go away over time? Also has anyone gone through a similar experience with headaches after a hysterectomy and what did they do to treat them. one of my doctors said that they could get better over time. I just want to get my life back after everything I have been through in the last couple of years. My children deserve a mother that is fully there for them. Thanks for any responses and prayers, S.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you to everyone who responded! It turns out that the headaches were partially from the drop in estrogen and partially due to new allergies! I guess new onset allergies is common after menopause! I am taking a daily claritan and that has helped immensely! Thanks again for all of the advice! What a great service!

Featured Answers

I took Effexor XR for depression a couple of years ago, and I absolutely hated it. I didn't feel right while on it. I decided I wanted nothing to do with it, and while I was weaning off, I was so dizzy the room would be spinning while I was laying flat on my back. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

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Hi S.;

I can't say I have been through all of this personally, but I suffer enough migraines and headaches to know what I am talking about! ;)

I found that Massage or Reflexology and the use of some certain oil blends (be very careful of what you purchase as some oils are tainted!) helped these go away for a while so now I get them less frequently. When they do occur; they are not nearly as bad or if I use the oils; they go away completely with a bit of rest. (I work my own feet daily to prevent migraines/ arthritis.)

I hope you find something soon! You could even research Cranial Sacral therapy... I hear this helps, too!

I would first wonder what type of anesthesia you had? Headaches from anesthesia would not respond to traditional headache medications (which usually do not work well to begin with).

Hormones can do terrible things, and as another post said, the fluctuation could be to blame. Try taking some time (even a few minutes) to be alone, breathe deeply, put a rolled up towel under your neck, and think about the pain going away. Forget about the dishes, laundry, etc for the time being. Also, I have a pulse point therapy that I bought at Bath & Body Works...Eucalytus Peppermint...that all my friends swear by. Any time they get a headache they run to our house and I rub it into their temples and forehead and they claim it is gone in minutes. It's worth a shot!


Hi S., I went thru the same thing 10 years ago, I had the hysterectomy and headaches. I agree with Angie, a chiropractor wouldnt be a bad idea, but if you dont want that, I have a few ideas that may help. My doc put me on effexor also, I liked it, I did have a few side effects, and they went away with time, but if they are thet bad with you dont take it! I also tried several different meds for migrains, but none worked. My daughter is prone to migrains, and I took her to the headache clinic in Ann Arbor and they did wonders for her. One thing they suggested was dont dwell on a migrain if you DONT have one, dont worry about it, keep busy etc. When you do get one, if you feel it comming on take your meds right away dont let it get full blown, and lay down in a dark room and put a cold cloth over you eyes and relax. For me after my hysterectomy, the headaches kept getting worse, he ended up putting me on vicodin just until they could figure out why I was getting them. That worked but I was like a zombie. I ended up switching docs and he put me on fiorinal, and that worked great. He also put me on Lexapro for depression and that was like a gift from heaven, the headaches slowed down and I felt like a human again. Now after 10 years, I am still on the Lexapro and the headaches are pretty much gone, I still get them but not everyday.I use fiorinal still if I get them. The anestesia does take a while to get out of your system, so that may be why the meds dont work, but dont give up hope! There are several different meds out there for headaches and you will find one thats right for you, I wouldnt take effexor if you have that bad of effects, but I think you need to try another pain med for the migrains the pain can cause depression, so treat that first, then if you are depressed follow thru with the other. Fiorianl, Midrin, Fiorect, Maxalt, Zomig, are a few that I had tried. Also there are alot of prevenitive meds that you can take that will stop the migrain all together, Topamax, Vitamin B-2, Zestril, Depakote, inderal. I hope that helped a little, Good luck and God bless!

Oh, the joy of the hysterectomy. I had a one for similar reasons two years ago. I take 2 natural products that have mostly eliminated any side effects. One is an anti-anxiety and stress tab that is not needed every day and one is a blend of ingredients designed to stop the other "stuff" associated with a hysterectomy or PMS. (We also have a natural alternative for headaches.) They really work! If you want to know more, let me know! (I am a distributor.)


Hi S.,
I am sorry to hear about your cancer and health issues. I have been seeing a Natropath Consultant, who is amazing with hormonal and other issues/illnesses. In my opinion, doctors only treat symptoms with pills - a bandaid remedy- without getting to the core issue and working on that. THe Natropath gets down to the core issues and treats with supplements, herbs, and other treatments. I highly recommend my Natropath, Judy Nicholson ###-###-####. She is in the Grand Rapids area and does an awesome job!!! It sounds like your hormones are not functioning properly - or it could be the thyroid, or some other gland(s) that produce the hormones.... I have learned a lot from her!! Don't hesitate!! Call her! Jen P.

Dear S. A.,

I was on Effexor for several years for depression and it made my mind feel very little. I seldom cried, and did not feel much of anything. I was like a numb person. Now I cry easily and have obsessive thoughts I have to work on getting rid of, but at least I can feel my feelings again. I choose not to ever take this drug again.

My concern with taking maintainance drugs is that eventually you have to get a bigger (higher) dose because the one you had previously no longer works for you and then when you get on the maximum dose your doctor has to find a different drug for you that will work. Sometimes you have to try two or three different meds before you find the one that works well for you. I would rather tough it out and trush Almighty God to help me so I can do without the help of drugs.

L. C.

Hello S.!

I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. I used to get body migraines when I had my period and then after my hysterectomy. A doctor finally showed me the "migraine diet." Try eleminating caffeine, dairy, chocolate and bananas. After two weeks, add one category back to your diet at a time. When I did that, each category gave me a body migraine!!! MSG can do it to you too. I hope this helps.


I am in no way affiliated with Arbonne, but have found that their hormone balancing cream, which uses plant estrogens, is very helpful with mood and migraines. They have 2 formulas, one for pre and one for post menopausal. You rub it into certain parts of your body twice a day for about 3 out of every 4 weeks post-menopausal. Your body has just lost the main source of hormone balance, and if you had migraines related to your cycle before, it makes sense that it would get worse with your reproductive system missing. You could probably find something similar at a health food store also. Hope this helps. It helped me when I went off birth control pills 5 years ago.

Hi S.,

I am a also mother of two children, ages 2 and 5 yrs old and I am a part time sonographer and instructor in a hospital. I am happily married as well to a supportive husband. I am so sorry to hear of your issues post hysterectomy. Our hopes are we expect to feel better after an major decision and surgery like you had and it is frustrating to run into these kinds of struggles afterward. Many people have difficulties with anti depressants and unfortunately, when they are supposed to make us better they often make us feel like someone we are not! And they have some unpleasant side effects, as you know...being a nurse.
Nonetheless, have you ever tried Xango juice, made from mangosteen? I know several people who have taken it post hysterectomy who have had wonderful results. (I could get you their contact numbers) My mother's migraines have resolved and it has helped me personally with chronic insomnia and mood swings related to hormonal changes. It has dramatically increased my energy levels and allowed me to go off of 2 medications completely (my 5 yr old daughter has gone off a prescription medication too). It has changed my life in many ways. I would be happy to get some complimentary juice to you to try. The company backs up its products and has a money back guarentee.
If you would like more information just give me a call at anytime at ###-###-#### or ###-###-####
My email is ____@____.com

I wish you the very best of luck post surgical and with your recovery. Hope to hear from you soon...take care.

Don't take it. I used to be on it, only for a short while, because of the same side effects as you had. I would lay in bed, my muscles tremoring, and my mind going nuts. You have tried it 2 times and know how it makes you feel. Don't be pressured into something as serious as this.
My husband gets terrible migraines every few days. It is worse now since he has broken his neck three times over ten years and recently had two discs in his lower back completely degenerate. He had surgery a few months ago, but he is still in a ton of pain and in a wheel chair. He can't take any preventative medications for his migraines because of his spinal shock (really low blood pressure). We go to the ER to treat his migraines. I would recommend trying another preventative. There are many out there. Frova, Varapamil, Emerge, try one of those before you try something you know doesn't work. Hope this helps.

Did you have your ovaries removed, or no? If your headaches were related to the part of your cycle where your estrogen levels drop, and your ovaries are gone, your head is still adapting to the drop in hormone levels that will even out in a few months. Ow, that's a long time to wait.

If you still have your ovaries, I have no suggestion about what might be causing your headaches...

Have you tried accupressure to ease the pain? There are a couple of pressure points that make different headaches abate, and it's cheap and easy to do whenever you feel one coming on.

The treatment of pain is an interesting subject -- it is far more important to stop the pain from getting bad than it is to wait until it's 'worth treating' because pain ends up creating a shadow of itself that is sometimes worse than whatever the initial pain was about...

Headaches are often caused by jaw clenching at night... are they worse in the morning when you wake? Whole body stress is often a result of invasive surgery and fear (cancer anyone?), so the stress of the operation may not have been released yet...

Alternatively, it may be nothing more than a lack of oxygen... abdominal surgery is a big deal for a body, and the pain of fully breathing initially following the operation may result in habitual shallow breathing that causes headaches.

Drinking enough water? Recently give up caffeine? Dehydration and caffeine withdrawl are both headache triggers that may have nothing at all to do with the surgery (or your cycle)...

Whatever it is, I hope it goes away. Headaches are so annoying when they last and last, they just colour ever part of life with genuine misery.

S., Have you heard of the web site hystersisters? I think you will find some of your anwsers there. Good Luck you will feel better!

I'm so sorry you've had to go through so much. Seems more than enough!
What you could be experiencing is a side effect of the anesthetic. That stuff is pretty powerful and can greatly affect the cranial regions. Wooziness, headaches, just a 'not quite right' feeling.
Keep your ibuprofen handy. Drink a lot of water to get that junk out of your system, and see how it goes.

Best of wishes.

Hi S.--Sorry I can't help directly with the headache problem, but I would say that the first thing you should do is to make sure your diet is in order. By that, I mean no processed foods, no milk or animial protein unless it is organic (huge source of hormones) and then be sure to get lots of fiber. All of these things will help to keep the levels of hormones down in your body. But, you need to make sure you have the correct levels of hormones in your body. That could be causing the headaches. Our doctors are not trained in nutrition and they have no idea how it is likely the basis for many of the ills we suffer from.

Secondly, be sure most of your diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, as many raw as possible, WHOLE grains and lots of legumes. Animal protein promotes cancer. Plant proteins inhibit and stop cancer cells in their tracks. You should be getting AT MINIMUM 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and probably more as a cancer survivor.

Please contact me if you would like me to share those files with you. I can also share some strategies for getting more f&v into your diet. I have my own business as a wellness educator and I love helping people to become more healthy through whole food nutrition. I have a degree in Home Economics. I look forward to talking to you to see how I can help. Good luck, D. ###-###-####

I have a total hysterectomy about 10 years ago, I have
been doing a patch twice a week, reduce it to once a week and now I am totally off my patch. I was very concern of the side effects of HRT so I stop. The transition was really difficult, I cannot sleep, hot flashes and etc. So I drink soy milk, eat some soybean vegetables, drink plenty of water, take omega 3, vit. c and calcium. It really helps me a lot, now my life is normal, hot flashes about twice a day and no headache. Hopefully this helps.

Hello S., I have never taken the medicine you are refering to, but I do know that anti-depressants do have side effects that go away in a few days of taking them. I did however have a hyterectomy in 97. After ward I did suffer with extreem migrains. None of the meds that the doc put me on would touch the headache. I also could not take hormones, due to a history of deep vein thrombosis. What I did discover was that Benadryl 50mg did releive the headache. My gynocologist sent me to an allergist because of this. He started me on allergy shots. Within 6 months, no more headaches. I don't know why the hysterectomy had anything to do with it, but the timing was uncanny. Good luck.

S. I can sympathize with you on the migraines. I too used to get one around my period (my 37 year old daughter has the same pattern). After a hysterectomy at age 40 the migraines got worse (same thing happened to my mom). I cannot take hormones either. I take a beta blocker (Inderal LA) every day to help prevent the headaches. That works 98% of the time. I'm 20 years older than you and the headaches have lessened since I'm on the post-menopausal side now. If all else fails you may want to try a headache clinic. Good luck.

I have dealt with daily headaches for years due to a brain surgery. Last November, they started me on Topamax. It is a daily medication that is used for multiple things, but also for warding off migraines. It has done wonders and has given me my life back. I take Maxalt for the 'bad' ones, but those are few and far between. There are a few side effects from the medication, but none that I can't live with and all are far less than the headaches that were undescribable. If you want more info, PM me...

I took Effexor XR for depression a couple of years ago, and I absolutely hated it. I didn't feel right while on it. I decided I wanted nothing to do with it, and while I was weaning off, I was so dizzy the room would be spinning while I was laying flat on my back. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

I DEFINITELY have a solution for you!!!! Have you ever tried chiropractic??? My husband can help you, I promise. I know that traditionally you might think chiropractic is just for people with bad backs, but it most certainly is not. It's about correcting your spine to ensure proper nerve function in your entire body. He has TONS of patients that have come in solely for headaches and 100% of them have seen amazing results. I'm talking about people who have taken injections daily for debilitating migraines who are now off ALL medications and headache free!!!! I am not simply pushing our business, I just know we can help you. Go get checked out, say A. sent you and exam, xrays and consultation won't cost you a thing! InnerLink Chiropractic ###-###-####

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