Surgical Menopause: It IS different from natural menopause
Menopause is a natural part of the aging process. This stage of life typically occurs for women in their 40s or 50s and marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Some women experience menopause earlier than normal due to a variety of medical reasons.
- So, what is surgical menopause?
- What happens with surgical menopause?
- How is surgical menopause different from natural menopause?
- How is surgical menopause managed?
- What do women say about surgical menopause?
So, what is surgical menopause?
Surgical menopause is the removal of both ovaries in women who have not yet had natural menopause. It almost always occurs with hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Women who have both ovaries removed after experiencing natural menopause will not have surgical menopause, and will not feel anything different.
What happens with surgical menopause?
The ovaries are the main source of estrogen, progesterone, and androgens in the body. When they are gone, the hormone levels fall and changes associated with menopause occur. These changes are different in each woman, but can include:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- vaginal dryness
- mood swings
- changes in sexual desire.
Women with surgical menopause are also at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
How is surgical menopause different from natural menopause?
- Surgical menopause occurs very suddenly; one day a woman is having menstrual cycles, and the next day, after surgery, she is postmenopausal. Women with natural menopause have a gradual transition that can take many years.
- Women with surgical menopause often experience more intensity in their symptoms than women with natural menopause.
- Women with surgical menopause are younger than women with natural menopause.
- Women with surgical menopause are recovering from major surgery when it begins. They have to heal both physically and mentally to adjust to what happened.
How is surgical menopause managed?
Some women will be given estrogen immediately after surgery to try to prevent the intense changes, especially hot flashes. However, the use of estrogen is controversial, and is not recommended for women with existing, or a high risk of developing, cardiovascular disease. When taking estrogen, take the lowest dose for the shortest possible time, and consider alternative therapies. Some antidepressants or herbal therapy, such as black cohosh, or a diet high in soy, may help to relieve hot flashes. Women with surgical menopause should not take progestins.
What do women say about surgical menopause?
- If they had bad symptoms (like pain, heavy bleeding, or pain during intercourse), these symptoms will be gone, and women feel healthy and relieved.
- There is no more worry about becoming pregnant.
- There is no worry about ovarian cancer, if that was a concern.
- Educate yourself -both before and after the surgery.
- Give yourself time to heal-in body and mind.
- Develop a partnership or collaborative relationship with a doctor or nurse practitioner who is a menopause specialist.
- "The best revenge is living well."
For More Information:
For more information:
Go to the Menopause
health topic, where you can:
- Read articles on this topic
- Browse the previously asked questions
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: May 04, 2011