What Are The Reasons For Surgical Menopause?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many individuals experience menopause when they reach their 40s or 50s, but it can also occur sooner or later than that. Menopause may cause mood swings, hot flashes, and weight gain. While menopause is a natural bodily function, in some cases, the process is spurred along by surgical menopause. There are several reasons someone might undergo surgical procedures that can cause menopause.

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What is surgical menopause?

Surgical menopause often occurs when an individual experiences menopause due to surgery, not aging. Surgical menopause occurs when the ovaries are removed. Depleting estrogen causes menopause, and ovaries create estrogen in the body. The name of the specific surgery that removes your ovaries is an oophorectomy. Ovaries are often removed alongside a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus. 

Why do people go through surgical menopause?

Menopause can be viewed as unpleasant and distressing. It may be seen as the end of youth and the beginning of aches and pains. Because of this, many wonder why someone would go through a surgical procedure that causes it. However, there is generally a medical reason behind surgical menopause, such as: 

  • Cancer prevention or cancer diagnosis 
  • Pain prevention
  • Ovarian cysts 
  • Uterine cysts and conditions 

Deciding to go through surgical menopause can be a personal or unavoidable decision, and every individual may have their own reasons for doing so.

Cancer prevention

If your family has a risk of ovarian cancer, you may also have a chance of developing it. For those who are concerned about developing cancer, surgical menopause can be a prevention method. Discussing this risk with your doctor may help you make the decision. One will not develop ovarian cancer if they have no ovaries, which is why this procedure may be indicated. Additionally, removing the ovaries could reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Suppose you have ovarian cancer or have been diagnosed with cancer in the reproductive system. In that case, your oncologist may also recommend surgical removal of your ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, or another area to prevent the spread or remove the cancerous cells. In this case, surgery may be necessary to prevent further complications.  


Endometriosis involves the uterine tissue growing outside of your uterus or around the reproductive organs. The tissue growth may cause pain in the lower stomach, pelvis, and uterine region. Removing your ovaries may stop your estrogen production and reduce pain. This process simulates surgical menopause. Often, in endometriosis surgery, your uterus is removed as well. 


Ovarian cysts are common, with studies indicating that 10 out of every 100 individuals with ovaries are diagnosed. Often, these cysts do not cause symptoms or can be removed through non-surgical methods. 

However, surgery may be recommended if a cyst is cancerous, oversized, or painful. Additionally, your doctor may recommend surgery if you have had multiple cysts that do not respond to treatment.

What to expect during surgical menopause

While experiencing surgically caused menopause, you might have perimenopausal symptoms, which occur before menopause. Some examples of side effects and symptoms of menopause include:

  • Irregular menstruation: As your menstruation stops, you may have sporadic periods if you still have a uterus. Talk to your doctor if you are having unknown spotting. 
  • Hot flashes: You may experience sudden temperature changes. Hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, as are chills. If you aren't experiencing any other symptoms, such as fever, it could be due to menopause.
  • Vaginal dryness: Your vagina naturally lubricates itself. However, with a lack of or no estrogen production, you may experience dryness. Lubricants could be necessary for enjoyable sexual activity. 
  • Mood changes: As your hormones shift, your mood may also. If you're experiencing sudden mood changes, it could be due to menopause. 
  • Night sweats: Suddenly sweating during the night or while you sleep can be caused by menopause.
  • Weight gain: Menopause can make it challenging to manage your weight as your hormones change. 
  • Thinning hair: Your hair may thin during menopause due to decreased hormone levels. It may also grow more slowly. 
  • Dry skin: Your skin may feel drier as you experience menopause. Stay hydrated by drinking water daily. 
  • Low libido: Hormone loss can also decrease libido, which is the natural bodily desire to have sex. You may increase this through sex therapy, medication, new sexual practices, and communication with your partner. 
  • Infertility: If you no longer have ovaries or a uterus, you won't be able to have a child from your body. 

Talking to your doctor about HRT

Before surgery, your doctor may walk you through the risks and challenges of surgical menopause. You may require hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to reduce the risk of distressing symptoms. However, every situation may vary. Hormones may be unnecessary in some cases. 

HRT may lower the risk of diseases. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, bone density loss, neurological diseases, and some forms of cancer. HRT may be recommended if you are under 45 and induced menopause surgically. Talk to your doctor to discern if this treatment would support you.

How to manage your symptoms

When you experience surgical menopause, you may face the side effects mentioned above. However, there are ways you can manage your symptoms, including the following. 

Hot flashes

While not harmful, hot flashes may feel annoying. You might reduce them by keeping your body cool. Staying hydrated, eating less spicy foods, and not drinking alcohol can reduce the severity of your hot flashes. Using more fans and lowering the temperature on the air conditioner may help with your hot flashes.


Stress levels may increase during menopause due to hormonal changes. However, there are ways to reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression often caused by menopause.

These include:

  • Sleeping at a regular time and consistently—if you are having problems with your sleep, talk to a doctor
  • Maintaining a healthy level of exercise, which can help you stay healthy 
  • Getting into meditation or mindfulness exercises, which may reduce the stress that comes along with menopause
  • Attending a support group—talking to other people going through menopause might help you feel better about your own experience


Hysterectomies may be considered alongside other procedures. They are not necessarily part of the surgical menopause procedure, but they can be implemented in addition to removing your ovaries. Hysterectomies involve removing the uterus, and while this doesn't cause menopause on its own, it does stop your periods, and you cannot become pregnant. 

Some people do this as a permanent form of birth control, while others may do it due to menstrual issues. Since your ovaries are still intact, you may experience menopause naturally. A hysterectomy may also be used to remove cancer.

There are different types of hysterectomies, and they include the following.

Total hysterectomy 

A total hysterectomy removes your entire uterus, including the cervix. An incision is made in the abdomen to remove it. A total hysterectomy is performed for many reasons, such as some cancer, uterine fibroids, or personal choice. 

Radical hysterectomy 

If you have cervical cancer, this rare hysterectomy may be used. The radical hysterectomy removes the upper vagina in addition to the uterus.

Supracervical hysterectomy 

In this type of hysterectomy, your uterus will be removed, not the cervix. This procedure can lower your chances of prolapse. However, if you have cervical cancer, it may not be recommended.

Vaginal hysterectomy 

A vaginal hysterectomy removes your uterus through the vagina. The surgery may affect your sexual function and cause other complications. However, you may recover faster, and there may be no scars left behind. Talk with your doctor to decide the best form of hysterectomy for you.

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Discuss your concerns about menopause with a professional

Counseling during menopause 

If you are considering going through surgical menopause, or any other kind of surgery, you may consider speaking to a counselor about your concerns and fears. Talking to your loved ones about a medical procedure can be difficult, and you may worry about getting unbiased advice. Therapy may allow you to express yourself in a safe environment that is free of bias. 

If you're concerned with the cost, distance, or availability of providers in your area, consider online counseling. Online counseling can be highly effective for treating various mental health disorders and improving the outcome of other problems, including medical issues. A recent study found that online counseling was effective for breast cancer survivors experiencing menopause. The participants reported significant levels of symptom reduction after their surgical procedure during internet-based counseling. 

If you're ready to try counseling, consider signing up for a platform such as BetterHelp, which offers a growing database of counselors specializing in various topics, including menopause.  


All surgeries may have risks, and you might weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding to go through with them. Speaking with a medical provider can help you make a decision that feels healthiest. 

Taking care of yourself before, during, and after surgical menopause can be vital to your physical and mental well-being. If you're struggling with the emotional effects of this decision, consider speaking to a counselor to learn more about managing these side effects.

Understand how menopause impacts the body and mind
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