What Is The Link Between Hysterectomy And Menopause?
Hysterectomy and menopause continues to create confusion among many women who are not sure whether the latter will be induced by having a hysterectomy. In explaining what can occur let's look at the link between the two.
Firstly, what is a hysterectomy? In simple terms, it's the removal of a women's uterus and cervix or part of a women's uterus. Some procedures may also involve removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The Effects Of Hysterectomy
So how does a hysterectomy affect menopause? Women can no longer menstruate or become pregnant following a hysterectomy but it seems there is confusion surrounding the issue of whether this means that menopause has occurred. Simply explained, if one or both of the ovaries are retained then menopausal onset could continue as normal. In fact, one of three things could happen: the ovaries will continue to function normally until menopause occurs; the ovaries could stop functioning as soon as one year following surgery or ovarian failure could be silent.
What Is Surgical Menopause?
Complete removal of the ovaries in pre-menopausal women will result in a drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels which can bring on what is described as surgical menopause. A sudden drop in ovarian production can lead to menopause symptoms occuring just a few days following the procedure. The increased risk of osteoporosis is one of the downsides to this as well as the usual symptoms of menopause including hot flushes and night sweats.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is an option for women who experience surgical menopause. This can help alleviate some of the symptoms such as hot flushes. Information on the benefits of HRT are sketchy to say the least with the treatment having both it's detractors and supporters. Whether it's the right course of action for you can only be made following a consultation with your health physician. The good news for women who elect to skip HRT is that there are alternative and more natural treatments available and this should be one of the first questions you ask your doctor.
Women who have one or both of their ovaries left behind following a hysterectomy will generally experience ovarian production until menopause is reached. The difference is that hormone levels can fluctuate alarmingly or, they can stop producing a lot sooner than expected. If it's the latter and oestrogen deficiency is recognized, then a visit to the doctor is of the utmost importance.
More Issues To Consider
There are other issues regarding whether the ovaries should be left behind. The threat of ovarian cancer always lingers and many doctors will advise their patients to consider removing them. The risk however, is low and in many cases if the ovaries are relatively healthy then many patients will elect to retain either one or both.
Hysterectomy and menopause seems like a very complex issue on the surface and in reality it is because there are many factors to consider. Hysterectomy is one of the most performed surgical procedures in the western world for women and for most, it's a decision made after lengthy analysation. You'll need to weigh up the pros and cons with your doctor before making any decision.