Menopause After a Hysterectomy
Whether or not a woman will experience menopause directly after a hysterectomy will generally depend on the type of hysterectomy performed.
What is a Hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of a woman's uterus. There are different types of hysterectomies to include:
- Partial or subtotal hysterectomy: The removal of a part of the uterus, but the cervix remains in tact.
- Total Hysterectomy: The removal of all of the uterus, but again leaving the cervix intact.
- Radical Hysterectomy: The removal of the complete uterus, cervix and the upper part of the vagina.
- Hysterectomy plus bilateral oopherectomy: Includes the removal of both ovaries.
What are the Reasons to Have a Hysterectomy?
There are many reasons why a doctor may recommend a hysterectomy. Sometimes hysterectomies are recommended as an optional treatment, while other times a hysterectomy may be the only treatment available. For instance hysterectomies may be considered as an option to treat fibroid tumors or endometriosis. However, uterine or cervical cancer--among a few other conditions--will leave a doctor with no other option but a hysterectomy.
When Will a Hysterectomy Cause a Woman to Go Into Menopause?
For some women, any hysterectomy can cause them to go into menopause early, simply because of the disturbance of their reproductive area. However most women will have a normal menopause (if there is such a thing) once her estrogen levels drop in her mid to late forties or early fifties.
The one, big exception to this rule is for women who have the hysterectomy plus bilateral oopherectomy. Once a woman's ovaries are removed, her estrogen levels will immediately drop, causing an instant onset of menopause. This is sometimes called surgical or induced menopause, as it is not a natural timed one.
Surgical or Induced Menopause
The bad news is that a surgical menopause is normally much more severe than a regular one, because the body is not given time to adjust to a lowered estrogen production. A lot of doctors will recommend a woman immediately start hormone replacement therapy after her ovaries are taken.
Hormone replacement therapy can help alleviate most, if not all, of a woman's severe menopausal symptoms. This therapy comes in a variety of options, too. HRT can be administered by pills, creams, gels, or even patches.
Talk to Your Doctor
If a hysterectomy is recommended, a woman should speak at length with her doctor and get all of her questions answered upfront. As stated above, sometimes a hysterectomy is only one of many optional treatments. If there are other options, discuss them with your doctor. Make sure you know exactly what type of hysterectomy he is recommending and whether or not it will involve the taking of the ovaries. If so, find out if he plans to start you on immediate HRT after the surgery. If not, find out why.
While a hysterectomy that involves the ovaries and menopause may go hand in hand, there is no reason to suffer because of it.