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Menopause

Surgical Menopause: It IS different from natural menopause

Menopause is a natural part of the aging process. This stage of life typically occurs for women in their 40s or 50s and marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. Some women experience menopause earlier than normal due to a variety of medical reasons.

  1. So, what is surgical menopause?
  2. What happens with surgical menopause?
  3. How is surgical menopause different from natural menopause?
  4. How is surgical menopause managed?
  5. What do women say about surgical menopause?

So, what is surgical menopause?

Surgical menopause is the removal of both ovaries in women who have not yet had natural menopause. It almost always occurs with hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Women who have both ovaries removed after experiencing natural menopause will not have surgical menopause, and will not feel anything different.

What happens with surgical menopause?

The ovaries are the main source of estrogen, progesterone, and androgens in the body. When they are gone, the hormone levels fall and changes associated with menopause occur. These changes are different in each woman, but can include:

Women with surgical menopause are also at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

How is surgical menopause different from natural menopause?

How is surgical menopause managed?

Some women will be given estrogen immediately after surgery to try to prevent the intense changes, especially hot flashes. However, the use of estrogen is controversial, and is not recommended for women with existing, or a high risk of developing, cardiovascular disease. When taking estrogen, take the lowest dose for the shortest possible time, and consider alternative therapies. Some antidepressants or herbal therapy, such as black cohosh, or a diet high in soy, may help to relieve hot flashes. Women with surgical menopause should not take progestins.

What do women say about surgical menopause?

For More Information:

Early Menopause
Understanding Menopause

For more information:

Go to the Menopause health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: May 04, 2011

Linda A Bernhard, PhD, RN Linda A Bernhard, PhD, RN
Professor Emeritus
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University