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    Surgical Menopause: Everything You Need to Know

    Updated 24 April 2020 |
    Published 27 August 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Anna Klepchukova, Flo chief medical officer, UK
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    Menopause begins after 12 consecutive months without a period and typically occurs in your 40s or 50s. Surgical menopause, however, is a medical alternative to this natural aging process. Next, learn more about surgical menopause symptoms and their management.

    What is surgical menopause?

    Surgical menopause involves the removal of your ovaries (oophorectomy), either on its own or in conjunction with a hysterectomy. Since the ovaries are your body’s main source of estrogen production, this could immediately trigger menopause, regardless of your age.

    Why an oophorectomy might be necessary

    An oophorectomy is often recommended by doctors to inhibit the development of chronic diseases. Patients at greater risk for breast or ovarian cancer based on family history may be advised to have one or both ovaries removed. In many cases, an oophorectomy is performed alongside a hysterectomy, which would similarly induce surgical menopause.

    The relief of chronic and persistent pelvic pain or symptoms of endometriosis have also been cited as reasons for undergoing an oophorectomy. Others include:

    • Ovarian torsion (or twisting, which hampers blood flow)
    • Recurrent ovarian cysts
    • Fibroids
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Benign ovarian tumors

    What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?

    Progesterone and estrogen are the primary hormones safeguarding your reproductive health. After surgical menopause, the shortage of these hormones produces a wide array of symptoms, such as:

    • Hot flashes and night sweats
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Depression and mood swings
    • Insomnia 
    • Fatigue
    • Dry skin
    • Hair thinning
    • Weight gain
    • Decreased sex drive

    To control the adverse effects of surgical menopause, your doctor might suggest hormone replacement therapy. HRT addresses the sometimes severe hormonal imbalances in your body brought on by surgical menopause. 

    Menopause symptoms can be painful and disrupt your daily activities. HRT helps alleviate those symptoms while simultaneously curbing bone loss and aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. 

    This is particularly critical for women under 45 years of age who have an oophorectomy prior to experiencing natural menopause. They possess a greater chance of developing heart disease, neurological issues, and cancer without HRT. 

    Surgical menopause symptoms aside, don’t start HRT if you have:

    • A personal or family history of ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer 
    • A personal history of thrombosis, or blood clots
    • Untreated high blood pressure 
    • Liver disease

    Several different types of HRT are available to manage surgical menopause symptoms. Note that estrogen-only therapy is administered to hysterectomy patients, whereas women who still have their uterus use a combination of estrogen and progesterone.