Surgical menopause is, as the name implies, menopause that is induced through a surgical procedure. This generally occurs when there is some sort of damage to the ovaries, whether by radiation, chemotherapy, or other factors that require them to be removed through surgery. This ovary removal induces menopause due to the abrupt cessation of ovarian hormones released into the body. Surgical menopause differs from natural, non-induced menopause in that the presentation of symptoms can differ. Because of the sudden nature of the hormone cutoff, surgical menopause can be a difficult experience. In this article, we will discuss the health management for someone who has had their ovaries surgically removed, as well as considerations for and against hormone therapy.
Health Management Post-Surgery
Post-surgery, you are likely to experience side effects such as the aforementioned hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, night sweats, insomnia that leads to fatigue, forgetfulness, and more. After the surgery, the symptoms can be counteracted through hormone therapy, which can be a relief for those who have undergone menopause at an unnaturally early age, as surgically-induced menopause has even been shown to increase a woman’s risk of heart disease, according to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
What is Hormone Therapy?
Hormone therapy can be used to replace the supply of estrogen that you have lost after your ovaries and/or uterus were removed. Estrogen affects your brain, heart, blood vessels, skin, and more; it is an incredibly large part of your body’s function, and it is largely the drop in hormone production that results in the side-effects associated with menopause, surgical or otherwise. Women who have only their ovaries removed (as opposed to their uterus and ovaries) may need progestin and estrogen. However, women who have removed both their uterus and ovaries generally can just receive estrogen replacement therapy on its own.
Benefits of Hormone Therapy
A major benefit of hormone therapy is the alleviation of bothersome side effects that occur after surgery. When hormones are thrown into imbalance, your entire body is affected. Symptoms can range from migraines, irritability, and fatigue to undesired changes in body weight and a loss of bone mass that can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Anxiety and depression associated with this kind of imbalance is also not uncommon. Living with chronic menopausal symptoms can be difficult, and hormone therapy can help bring the hormone levels in your body back to a more natural medium that increases your quality of life.
Risks of Hormone Therapy
There are risks of hormone therapy that need to be considered before deciding whether or not you want to take part in the treatment. According to a study by the Women’s Health Initiative, there were risks for women who were taking both estrogen and progestin (in this case, Premarin and Prempro) between the ages of 50 and 79. Researchers stopped the study after discovering that women were showing increased risks of heart disease, blood clots, stroke, and lung cancer.
There are both risks and benefits to hormone therapy – it is not a decision to undertake lightly. Each woman’s decision is individual, and should be based upon her doctor’s recommendations. Consultation with administering physicians like Dr. Brinson of Body Concepts can help you better understand the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy and understand how it fits into your health plan.