Menopause is an unavoidable, natural, rite of passage that occurs in the female body. It is the cessation of the menstrual period, and with that, the discontinuation of fertility. Some women may experience complications with their reproductive systems which may cause early menopause. In other instances, women may experience menopause induced by surgery. Read on to learn more about menopause induced by surgery, the reasons for it, and advice on how to handle it.
Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy
Hysterectomy and oophorectomy often come to mind when talking about surgical menopause and many people confuse the two.
A hysterectomy is most basically understood as the removal of the uterus, though there are three different types, and they differ based on what parts of the reproductive system are removed. Some women only need their uterus and cervix removed, while others have their uterus, cervix as well as ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.
An oophorectomy is the removal of the ovaries. It's easy to see why many people confuse hysterectomies and oophorectomies as the territories are often blurred. Oophorectomies are what is most commonly considered surgically induced menopause because women no longer menstruate after their ovaries are removed, but may still menstruate if they had a hysterectomy.
Why Do Women Experience Menopause as the Result of Surgery?
Menopause induced by surgery occurs when many women must have part or all of their reproductive system removed. It can happen for various reasons. Endometriosis, for one, can cause a lot of pain and most often occurs during the height of estrogen production, which can be relieved through hysterectomy or oophorectomy. Both of these procedures are also often necessary in order to treat cancer, remove a large ovarian cyst, or to treat pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Why Are Surgically Induced Menopause Symptoms so Severe?
Induced menopause often results in harsher symptoms because of the abrupt severance of the reproductive system. Many hormones, like estrogen, are produced in the ovaries (though estrogen is also produced in the adrenal glands). With the sudden removal of the ovaries, the body is confused by the change in its customary level of estrogen. As a result of the unexpected hormone fluctuation, symptoms like vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood swings occur and are often more severe than if the body is given time to adjust to a gradual decrease of estrogen, as is the case with natural menopause.
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