A natural part of every woman’s life is the eventual transition into menopause. Even years before the last menstrual period, one can experience signs of menopause, called perimenopause.
Apart from the natural menopause transition (perimenopause to postmenopause) that most women will experience, some may face a few more challenges.
Premature Ovarian Failure. The average age for women to reach natural menopause, is around age 45-50. Some however, go through menopause in their 40s or even earlier. For most of them, diagnosis of Premature Menopause or Premature Ovarian Failure is a rather shocking experience. Many younger women with these conditions have not yet started a family and learn that it is now too late.
Surgical Menopause. Also called medical menopause, or sudden menopause, occurs when the ovaries are removed before the natural menopause, causing a sudden drop of the ovarian hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). After surgery, symptoms may start very quickly, and quite often they are intense. Women who have a total abdominal hysterectomy (ovaries and uterus removed) will experience the most significant, life-altering symptoms, if hormone therapy intervention does not begin at once.
Many women will be reassured by their doctor and told that they will feel better after the surgery. (My doctor told me that I would feel better than I had in years.) The reality is, it’s just not true for a lot of women. Why do the symptoms tend to be so extreme? There are a multitude of theories, but common sense tells me that it is most likely due to the abrupt hormone withdrawal. It can be like hitting a brick wall. Some women report hot flashes and mood problems within days of their surgery; others report that the symptoms appear more gradually. Severe and profound fatigue, along with joint and muscle pain can often begin.
Since the adrenal system steps in to pick up the slack on hormone production, the severity of problems can be directly related to a woman’s adrenal health at the time of the surgery. The mainstream medical community, especially in relation to severe menopause symptoms, does not often recognize the issue of adrenal fatigue. However, in my own opinion, and based on my own experiences, this is absolutely a factor in quality of life after surgical menopause.
Here are some things to consider:
– The younger the woman going through surgery, the more potential for severe symptoms;
– Have a hormonal blood work-up before hysterectomy; you can always look back at those tests and see what the levels were before the surgery and try to achieve those levels again;
– As a young woman, it is important to look for a specialist in natural hormonal therapy- someone who is informed and kept up-to-date with the newest medicine and side effects surgical menopause may have;
– There is still little information about the long-term affects surgical menopause has, at a younger age, so do your research and stay informed. Researchers are just now finding out how surgical menopause can relate to heart disease, osteoporosis and general health.
The symptoms most women will experience are night sweats, insomnia, hair loss, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, bladder infections, weight gain, anger, depression and loss of libido. Some of these problems can be resolved with herbs and nutritional supplements; more severe issues may require medical intervention and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
When faced with the decision about this type of surgery, it can be a bit overwhelming. You will definitely feel more comfortable if you can perform a good amount of due diligence in advance. Surgical menopause can be a traumatic and confusing event. It’s also a good idea to speak with your doctor ahead of time about hormone replacement options. With some illnesses and conditions, hormone replacement therapy is extremely tricky. Go ahead and seek out one or two practitioners who know and utilize supplements and bioidentical hormones. Should you need their expertise, you’ll be glad to have their names and contact information close at hand.
Cathy Yeatts is a women’s health advocate and webmaster of several menopause-related web sites. Having personal experience with early onset menopause, she seeks to educate other women about their treatment options and urges them to consider all natural and alternative treatments when possible and appropriate. Learn more about menopause, surgical menopause, natural hormone replacement and women’s natural health:
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