What is Surgical Menopause?
Surgical menopause is when surgery triggers a woman to go into the menopause, specifically when an ‘oophorectomy’ is performed, which is a procedure that removes the ovaries.
This is the only procedure that can forcibly induce menopause, rather than the menopause being a natural progression in a woman’s later life. As the ovaries are responsible for the production of oestrogen, which keeps a woman in her reproductive phase, and when the ovaries are removed, this causes an imminent progression into the menopause, regardless of age, lifestyle or health condition.
It’s worth noting that in some cases, an oophorectomy is performed alongside a hysterectomy, which is a surgical procedure that may involve removing the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tube and other parts of the reproductive structure.
Menstruation stops as a result of the reproductive organs no longer being there, but just a hysterectomy itself does not cause a woman to enter into menopause, unless the ovaries are removed in the procedure.
What are the risks of surgical menopause?
Surgical menopause not only cause a major disruption to the reproductive structure in the body, it also causes hormonal imbalances. This is because the ovaries are responsible for producing oestrogen, and when the ovaries are removed from the female body, this also inhibits the adrenal glands from secreting progesterone which works in synergy with oestrogen to produce, what would usually be, a healthy hormone balance.
When our hormonal level is imbalanced, our body communicates this in the form of symptoms such as an irregular period, low libido, vaginal dryness, infertility, and in more serious cases; heart disease and osteoporosis. For that reason, and depending on your medical history, some doctors may or may not recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after an oophorectomy to reduce the risk of more serious disease.
However, doctors tend not to recommend that women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer, undergo an oestrogen therapy, or take oestrogen supplements.
What are the benefits of surgical menopause?
Some women find much relief when they have their ovaries removed, this is because when a woman has experienced an excess of oestrogen in her body, she is more prone to certain cancers being developed, especially if a woman is practicing a lifestyle that doesn't support ‘switching off’ the genes in her body that make her susceptible for developing diseases.
In this case, an oophorectomy can be used as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Surgical menopause can also help to reduce pain from endometriosis, which is a condition that causes uterine tissue to grow inside the uterus, which can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or lymph nodes and cause significant pelvic pain, particular around the time of menstruation. Removing the ovaries can stop or slow oestrogen production and reduce pain symptoms.
Why do women have surgical menopause?
Some women have certain cancers that run in the family, and if a woman is not aware of how to practice a lifestyle that prevents these cancers from growing, she may decide to physically remove her reproductive organs, especially the ovaries, as her chosen preventative action against cancers.
In other cases, women may choose to remove their ovaries due to experiencing symptoms from conditions such as endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain. Although, it is not always a guarantee that surgical procedures such as an oophorectomy will give the desirable result.
Other reasons women may want to induce surgical menopause, through the removal of her ovaries, is because of ovary torsion, twisted ovaries that impact blood flow, or growths such as fibroids, ovarian cysts and ovarian tumours.
Any tips for managing surgical menopause?
Most commonly, doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to deal with the after symptoms of surgical menopause such as imbalanced hormone levels. Although HRT is said to lower symptoms such as bone density loss and osteoporosis, it significantly heightens the risk of developing many health conditions, especially breast cancer.
If the ovaries are removed before a natural progression into menopause, it is possible to care for yourself in surgical menopause by adapting to lifestyle changes that embrace a wholesome food intake, frequent and gentle exercise, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, practicing mindfulness techniques, limiting alcohol intake, keeping your bedroom cool at night, keeping a fan at the bedside.
Ultimately, women who experience surgical menopause through an oophorectomy will reduce their risk of cancers in the reproductive area, however it is so important to remember than such disruptions to the body will incur other health issues.
So, try to be sure that you seek out information about rectifying your health condition challenges through a natural healing process first, before undergoing an oophorectomy.
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