Induced Menopause - Surgical
While most women naturally reach menopause around the late 40s and early 50s (the average age is 51), other women experience induced menopause. Induced menopause can be brought about by a number of factors, including surgical and medical causes. Induced menopause is often a scary thing for women to experience because it usually follows on the heels of a daunting medical condition or procedure. Along with the effects of the condition or surgery, women must now address the symptoms and bodily changes associated with induced menopause.
Induced menopause can bring many challenges and changes, but it needn’t be overwhelming. With the right information and some preparation, any woman can face induced menopause.
Many women who undergo induced menopause may feel that part of their youth is being taken away or that they are aging more quickly, but this is not the case. Induced menopause often comes as a result of an unavoidable surgical procedure or medical condition which necessitates the removal of the ovaries or uterus. In this section, all aspects of induced menopause will be addressed, including general information about induced menopause, different types of induced menopause, some uncommon causes of induced menopause, symptoms of induced menopause, and treatments for induced menopause.
Understanding Induced Menopause
Induced menopause refers to menopause that does not begin naturally and is caused by external factors such as surgery or a medical condition. There are several causes for induced menopause, the two most common being ovary removal (oophorectomy) and uterine removal (hysterectomy).
Natural menopause begins when the ovaries shut down and thus are no longer producing estrogen. Without enough estrogen, the female body becomes infertile. When a woman’s estrogen levels are low enough to preclude menstruation for twelve months, she is said to have gone through menopause
Induced menopause, however, happens much more suddenly and in conjunction with surgery or medical intervention, making it much more burdensome and stressful.
Types of Induced Menopause
There are two main types of induced menopause: surgically induced menopause and medically induced menopause. Surgically induced menopause occurs as a result of surgery; for example, a hysterectomy. Medically induced menopause is caused by medication and usually related to cancer (for example, chemotherapy or radiation). There are also other causes of induced menopause, which will be explored in the sections that follow.
Surgically Induced Menopause
Surgically induced menopause results from surgery that dramatically decreases the amount of estrogen in the female body. Surgically induced menopause is difficult to deal with primarily because it comes on so suddenly; women who experience surgically induced menopause do not have the eight to twelve years of building toward menopause. They have no time to become accustomed to the symptoms of menopause; instead, they are thrust into surgically induced menopause and must deal with the stress of both surgery and menopause. Surgically induced menopause most often results from either an oophorectomy or a hysterectomy. An oophorectomy is a procedure in which the ovaries are removed, causing surgically induced menopause. Removing the ovaries and/or uterus always triggers menopause, which can be particularly trying for younger women.
Undergoing a hysterectomy can be a particularly difficult way for surgically induced menopause to occur. Unfortunately, a hysterectomy is often necessary for younger women in order to treat conditions like endometriosis and cancer. If a hysterectomy is performed, but the ovaries are left in place, then surgically induced menopause will not always result. In such cases, menopause symptoms will begin normally. However, removing the uterus does mean that a woman will no longer menstruate and cannot have children.
Medically Induced Menopause
Medically induced menopause is just as unsettling and difficult as surgically induced menopause and can result for some of the same reasons. Medically induced menopause occurs most often as a result of chemotherapy or radiation that damages the ovaries and leaves them susceptible to cancer. If the ovaries are damaged during chemotherapy, menopause will most likely result because the ovaries will no longer be able to produce enough hormones to sustain fertility. However, there are also drugs that can trigger medically induced menopause. Any drug that has the potential to manipulate hormone levels or endocrine system performance also has the potential to induce menopause.
Other Causes of Induced Menopause
Although surgery and medicine are the most common external causes of menopause, other causes of induced menopause exist. Other causes of induced menopause can include any of the following:
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
When it comes to induced menopause, it's very important for women to stay as healthy as possible so that the body is under an inordinate amount of stress. This takes a toll on the entire body as well as the reproductive system and, in addition to inducing menopause, will almost certainly make menopause more difficult to deal with.
Symptoms of Induced and Surgical Menopause
The symptoms that women experience after surgically or medically induced menopause are identical to those experienced by women who experience menopause naturally. The difference, unfortunately, is that women who experience surgically or medically induced menopause have no cushioning transitional period in which to get used to the idea of menopause and accept that their body is changing permanently. Instead, these women must deal with the stress of a surgery or medical condition in addition to the difficult, unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Below is a list of symptoms of induced and surgical menopause.
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Mood swings
- Decreased libido
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
Because the hormonal imbalance associated with menopause affects so many different parts of the body, there is really no way to eliminate any potential symptoms. Every woman is different.
Treatments for Induced Menopause
There are three categories of treatments for induced menopause: lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and drugs and surgery. These treatments for induced menopause should be used in this order, beginning with the low-cost and low-risk lifestyle changes and eventually moving on to drugs and surgery if the first and second categories provide no relief.
Lifestyle changes include adopting an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, not smoking or drinking alcohol, and utilizing stress-reduction techniques.
The second category, natural remedies, consists of herbs that help the body correct its hormonal imbalance by stimulating the endocrine system.
Drugs and surgery should be used only as a last resort because of the high cost and risk involved. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has decreased in popularity over the years because of its link to serious conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots.
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