To understand the Surgical Menopause properly it is important to research the natural menopause. So I will start by quoting some of the best sites explanations. I will include the links to these sites at the end of this page.
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether. Sometimes they can stop suddenly.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51.
However, around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age. This is known as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms of the menopause
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms. Some of these can be quite severe and have a significant impact on your everyday activities.
Common symptoms include:
- hot flushes
- night sweats
- vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- difficulty sleeping
- low mood or anxiety
- reduced sex drive (libido)
- problems with memory and concentration
Menopausal symptoms can begin months or even years before your periods stop and last around four years after your last period, although some women experience them for much longer.
What causes the menopause?
The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones, which occurs as you get older.
It happens when your ovaries stop producing as much of the hormone oestrogen and no longer release an egg each month.
Premature or early menopause can occur at any age, and in many cases, there’s no clear cause.
Sometimes it’s caused by a treatment such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy), some breast cancer treatments, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or it can be brought on by an underlying medical condition, such as Down’s syndrome or Addison’s disease.
Many women who have their ovaries removed go abruptly into menopause soon after their procedures. It can take a little time as residual hormones fade away, but there is a good chance that menopause symptoms will hit you a great deal faster and harder than someone going through natural menopause. A person going through natural menopause, on the other hand, is more likely to have a gradual shutdown of her ovaries over some time, with the ovaries still producing some hormones for a while. The process of natural menopause is usually more erratic than surgical menopause and can be slow or fast, difficult or relatively easy. There is a great deal of variation in women’s experiences.
Know that even if you keep one or more ovaries, they may shut down anyway. Sometimes they do not reestablish their hormone production after the shock of surgery, and you will experience surgical menopause despite having kept an ovary or two.
When going through menopause, whether surgical or natural, discuss your hormone replacement options with your doctor. Some women choose not to use hormone replacement therapy due to family history and risk factors. Others will find significant relief of their symptoms through HRT. Seek a second opinion.
Treatments for menopausal symptoms
Your GP can offer treatments and suggest lifestyle changes if you have severe menopausal symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day life, including:
- hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen
- vaginal oestrogen creams, lubricants or moisturisers for vaginal dryness
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a type of talking therapy that can help with low mood and anxiety
- eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly – maintaining a healthy weight and staying fit and strong can improve some menopausal symptoms
Your GP can refer you to a menopause specialist if your symptoms don’t improve after trying treatment or if you’re unable to take HRT.
There are many natural supplements that can be added to your diet to help with some of the symptoms. However everybody is different in finding something that works for them.
DID YOU KNOW?
Oestrogen also plays an important role in bone formation and lower oestrogen levels have been linked with weaker bones and osteoporosis. Too high a ratio of oestrogen to testosterone is linked with faster progression of autoimmune diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
Progesterone is a hormone that stimulates and regulates important functions, playing a role in maintaining pregnancy, preparing the body for conception and regulating the monthly menstrual cycle. Progesterone is one of the hormones in our bodies that stimulates and regulates various functions.
Testosterone is also produced in women’s ovaries and adrenal glands. Little is known about the exact role of testosterone in women, but scientists believe it helps maintain muscle and bone strength and contributes to sex drive or libido.
I will detail more supplements and natural sources of these hormones on my Diet page.
Below are recommended websites with interesting information, articles and forums.