Surgical menopause: What are the effects, risk and outlook

Menopause is a transitional phase, during which pregnancy is no longer possible. The cycle typically begins when a person hits their 40s, but in some circumstances this may happen earlier.

Early menopause can result in certain operations, medical procedures and health conditions.

For example, surgery to remove one or both of the ovaries can cause drop in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. Removal of both ovaries can cause menopause surgery.

Learn more about surgical menopause in this article like what to expect and some treatments for the lifestyle.

Surgery and menopause

Surgery room
Some people may experience early menopause after undergoing certain types of surgery.

Diverse types of surgery can affect the reproductive organs of women. Such operations include uterine removal, Falopian tubes, cervix, and one or both ovaries.

Upon bilateral oophorectomy, surgical menopause can develop. It is a procedure in which all ovaries are separated by a Surgeon. Based on the reason for the operation, they can also remove the uterus, Fallopian tubes, cervix or a mixture of these.

This is called hysterectomy, when a surgeon removes the uterus.

When the surgeon removes both ovaries, menopause should begin immediately after the procedure. Whether they remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, or both but keep one or both ovaries intact, menopause will possibly start within 5 years.

Surgical menopause may have similar effects to those of normal menopause, but they may be more severe. This is because the hormonal shifts can occur more rapidly than over many years. Generally, the adjustments begin as soon as the procedure is finished.

Causes or reasons for surgery

There are plenty of reasons to opt for surgery. A person may undergo treatment, for example, to overcome endometriosis or to prevent cancer. Some could opt to have surgery as part of the sex reassignment process.

Many medical reasons to have an oophorectomy include:

  • easing endometriosis
  • treating benign or cancerous tumors or cysts
  • easing ovarian torsion, in which an ovary becomes twisted
  • preventing ovarian cancer in those at high risk

People with a known family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both can be checked to see whether they have a genetic mutation that raises their cancer risk, such as variations in the genes of BRCA1 and BRCA2.

If these characteristics are present, the person may decide to undergo surgery to reduce their potential cancer risk.

Research shows that the risk of developing ovarian, Fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer later in life may be substantially decreased following surgery.

Anyone who, for any reason, is considering ovarian surgery should discuss with their health care provider the benefits and risks.

Medical menopause

Often the symptoms of menopause may be caused by other medical treatments. Physicians call this “medical menopause.” Depending on the intervention the effect can be temporary or permanent.

Of example, breast cancer chemotherapy may cause a temporary pause in menstruation and the effects of menopause. This will begin within weeks or months after treatment starts.

In certain cases, menstruation should resume within one year of completion of the procedure. That isn’t the case for everybody, however.

Some reports indicate that 25–50 percent of 30-year-olds receiving this kind of care will start menstruating again. Research also indicates that a person can undergo menopause sooner than they would if they had not had the procedure, even if the menstruation returns.

What to expect

Natural menopause takes place over a period of years but unexpectedly, surgical menopause happens. While menopause is experienced differently by all, the abruptness of the transition may mean that the effect of surgical menopause is slightly different from that of natural menopause.

Menopause happens when the estrogen and progesterone levels decline. This shift can lead to various effects including:

  • hot flashes and night sweats
  • vaginal dryness
  • changes in libido
  • difficulty sleeping
  • mood changes
  • problems with thinking, focusing, and memory

These effects may start to appear within hours or days of the surgery, depending on the extent of the procedure.

Complications

Menopause is a natural process, similar to puberty, which the body goes through. Any of the changes associated with normal menopause may not be due to menopause but to the cycle of aging. Natural menopause usually happens around midlife. People are likely to undergo other physical changes even at this age.

However, hormonal changes that occur with either natural or surgical menopause may cause or increase the risk of certain complications, irrespective of the age at which menopause begins.

These complications include osteoporosis and heart disease, as estrogen plays a central role in both.

For example, estrogen helps support strong bones. Bone density may decline as estrogen levels dip, and the bones can become weaker and more likely to break, probably contributing to osteoporosis.

Estrogen also plays a part in cardiovascular safety, and women who have had menopause can have an elevated risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.

This being said, people who eat a diverse diet and exercise regularly can have a lower risk of some of these complications.

Fertility changes

Once both ovaries have been removed, conception will no longer be necessary, and the menopause will begin. Those who do want to have children after diagnosis can speak with their doctor or a professional counselor about the choices.

If a person undergoes medical menopause and there is a risk that menstruation will return, they may want to consider storing those eggs, such as freezing them, in order to improve their likelihood of a healthy pregnancy later in life.

Discussing with a health care professional about these risks will help an patient make an educated decision.

Treatment

After surgery, a doctor can prescribe hormone therapy to reduce the menopause effect.

Hormone treatment doesn’t suit everyone. Of example, those who are at high risk of stroke may not be able to use it.

Many forms of treatment can also help patients control the symptoms, including low mood, anxiety, hot flashes, and sleep issues.

Lifestyle remedies

Trying any lifestyle remedies may help to reduce the impact of menopause surgery. Such solutions cover:

  • Avoiding the triggers of hot flashes: Alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, stress, and warm temperatures can all trigger hot flashes.
  • Keeping cooling items to hand: It may help to keep a portable fan and a bottle of ice water nearby.
  • Using a lubricant during sex: This can help make sex more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Keeping the bedroom cool and quiet: This can help make sleeping easier. Other tips include avoiding large meals and fluids before bedtime, following a regular routine for going to bed and getting up, and leaving mobile devices outside of the bedroom, if possible. Also, a person may wish to keep a fan near their bed.
  • Taking steps to relieve stress: Some tips to relieve stress include getting enough sleep, exercising, taking walks in nature, meditating, and practicing yoga.
  • Seeking help when needed: A doctor, counselor, or other healthcare provider can offer support and treatment if a person has any physical or mental health concerns.
  • Joining a support group: A person can ask their healthcare provider about local support groups for people with menopause or surgical menopause. In many cases, friends or family will also be willing to help.

Outlook

The hormonal changes characterizing menopause can affect the well-being and mental and physical health of a person. Surgical menopause triggers rapid development of these effects, although they may develop gradually over time in natural menopause.

Anyone who is considering preventive surgery will explore with a health care provider the benefits and drawbacks before continuing.

If a person experiences serious or worsening symptoms of menopause after surgery, they should seek medical assistance. Typically, a doctor may recommend ways to better control such results.

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