What Are The Reasons For Surgical Menopause?
Updated January 02, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Most of us, whether we're male, female, young, or old, know about menopause. It's when a woman stops menstruation due to aging. Menopause can cause many symptoms to occur, including mood swings and hot flashes. But what is surgical menopause? In this post, we will explain what surgical menopause is, why people go through it, and if you should go through it too.
The definition of surgical menopause is simple. It's when someone goes through menopause because of surgery, not because of aging. A woman goes through menopause surgically after the ovaries are removed. Since the ovaries create estrogen, the depletion of estrogen will cause menopause no matter how old you are. The name of the surgery that removes your ovaries is called an oophorectomy.
Why Do Women Go Through Surgical Menopause?
Menopause is viewed as unpleasant in our society. It's seen as the end of youth and the beginning of aches and pains. Because of this, many wonder why a woman would willingly want to go through it. There are quite a few reasons why. Here are a few.
If your family has a risk of ovarian or breast cancer, you may have a chance of developing it as well. For women who are concerned about developing cancer, surgical menopause can help, especially if they are going to develop cancer without a doubt in the future. Obviously, one can't develop ovarian cancer if they have no ovaries at all. Additionally, removing the ovaries can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Endometriosis involves the uterine tubes growing outside of your uterus. This can affect all parts of your uterus and cause pain in your pelvis. By removing your ovaries, this can help lower or stop your estrogen levels and reduce your pain. Sometimes, estrogen replacement therapy can help, but if a woman can't do that, surgical menopause can help.
Noncancerous ovarian cysts can be a reason why some people want them removed. If your cysts have been removed constantly, and they keep growing back, then removing your ovaries may be the choice you have to make.
What To Expect After Surgical Menopause
With menopause, there are many side effects that can happen once you experience it. You can experience perimenopausal symptoms, which occur right before menopause, or these symptoms can happen during menopause as well. Some examples of side effects and symptoms of menopause include:
- Irregular periods. As your periods start to end, they may appear sporadically. If your periods are odd, talk to your doctor and see what is causing them.
- You may experience odd temperature changes that are sudden and don't make sense. Hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, but so are chills for that matter. If you aren't experiencing any other symptoms, such as fever, it could be menopause.
- Vaginal dryness can happen. Your vagina naturally lubricates itself, but with your estrogen production slowing down, it can cause it to dry up. You may need lubricant for all forms of sexual contact.
- Mood changes. As your hormones shift, so can your mood. If you're experiencing sudden mood changes, it can be caused by your hormones going out of whack.
- Night sweats. Suddenly sweating during nighttime can be caused by menopause.
- Weight gain. As you age, your metabolism can lower and it can be harder to keep you at a normal weight. Menopause especially makes it hard to keep your weight, and you may suddenly gain weight.
- Thinning hair. If you have thick hair, pay attention to it during menopause. It may thin.
- Dry skin. Your skin may feel drier as you experience menopause. Always remember to stay hydrated!
- Bone density loss. As you age, and especially after menopause, your bones may feel less dense. This can lead to breaking them easier, and you should try to use calcium and other supplements to keep them strong.
- Low libido. When you age and lose hormones, your desire to have sex decreases.
- Once you lose your ovaries, you're not going to be able to have a child.
When you go in for surgery, your doctors will obviously go through the various risks and challenges that come with surgical menopause. You may need HRT, or hormone replacement therapy, to help reduce the risk of symptoms or disease. However, it all depends. If you are having the surgery to reduce the risk of cancer, HRT may increase the risk again, so giving you hormones would be pointless.
However, HRT also lowers the risk of other diseases as well. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, bone density loss, neurological diseases, and some forms of cancer. HRT can especially be important if you are a younger person who induced menopause surgically. By a younger woman, we mean less than 45 years of age. With that said, it all depends on your health factors. HRT can be a lifesaver after surgical menopause, or it can be counterproductive.
How To Manage Your Symptoms
When you experience surgical menopause, you may be faced with the above-mentioned side effects. However, there are ways you can manage your symptoms. Here's how you can do it.
While not deadly, hot flashes can be annoying. The obvious way to reduce hot flashes is to cool yourself down. Staying hydrated, eating less spicy foods, and not drinking as much alcohol can reduce the severity of your hot flashes. Using more fans and air conditioners can help with your hot flashes too.
Too much stress can happen to anyone at anytime, but your stress levels increase a lot during menopause. Luckily, there are ways to reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression that are caused by menopause.
- Sleeping at a normal time in a consistent manner. If you are having problems with your sleep, talk to a doctor.
- Maintaining a healthy level of exercise can make you feel good and counteract the other effects of menopause such as gaining a lot of weight.
- Getting into meditation or mindfulness exercises can allow you to reduce your stress that comes with menopause.
- Support groups. Talking to other women who go through menopause can allow you to feel better about your own menopause.
It's worth it to also talk about hysterectomies as well. They are not necessarily part of the surgical menopause procedure, but it can be implemented in addition to removing your ovaries. Hysterectomies involve removing the uterus, and while this doesn't cause menopause, it does stop your periods and you cannot become pregnant. Some women do this as a permanent form of birth control, while others may do it due to period issues. Because your ovaries are still intact, you will experience menopause naturally. A hysterectomy may also be used to remove cancer.
There are different types of hysterectomies, and they include:
This is when your entire uterus is removed. This makes up for most of the hysterectomies and it includes the cervix as well. An incision is made in the abdomen in order to remove it. A total hysterectomy is performed for many reasons, such as some cancers or uterine fibroids.
If you have cervical cancer, this rare hysterectomy may be used. The radical hysterectomy removes the upper vagina in addition to the uterus.
This is when you remove the uterus, but not the cervix. This will lower your chances of a prolapse, but if you have cervical cancer, it is not recommended.
This is what happens when you remove your Fallopian tubes in addition to your ovaries. This is when you have certain types of cancers that can be prevented by removing these, and it may be performed to treat endometriosis as well.
When you have to do this, a surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen and remove your uterus. You can also use a vaginal hysterectomy, which removes the uterus through the vagina. There are pros and cons to this surgery. It can affect your sexual function and cause a few other complications. However, you recover faster and there are no scars that are left behind.
If you are considering going through surgical menopause, or a similar surgery, then you may speak to a counselor about the risks and what to expect from the surgery. Surgical menopause is something you must think about. Do the risks outweigh the benefits? It's important to get a complete picture of your risk of cancer before you go about the surgery. Make sure the surgery is truly preventing the cancer, or another medical symptom, before you go ahead.
After the surgery, counseling is important as well. You may go through different mood changes and this can make you confused or unable to figure out how to deal with them. Speak with a therapist for any help during the recovery stage, or with any other concern you may have.