Menopause is a natural transition every woman goes through. You are officially declared menopausal when you have not had your menstrual cycle for 12 months or even longer. It is a natural transition that occurs as you age. Your ovaries stop producing oestrogen and progesterone, which cause your periods to stop and menopause to commence. It usually occurs in your 40s or 50s.
There are instances in which you could go through early menopause. Surgically removing your ovaries could lead to your menstruation cycle stopping at a young age.Your uterus has two small organs situated on either side called ovaries. The hormones controlling your menstrual cycle, namely oestrogen and progesterone, are produced by your ovaries. Without ovaries, you would end up in menopause much earlier, due to lack of regulating hormones. Surgically caused menopause can have long or short term effects on your body. You should make sure you are aware of these effects and how to deal with them.
The procedure of getting your ovaries removed surgically is called oophorectomy. Menopause caused surgically is also referred to as bilateral oophorectomy. The procedure is considered for the most part to be minimally invasive. The surgeon makes small cuts in the area of your lower abdomen. It helps give the doctor easy access to your ovaries and remove them efficiently.
Occasionally, oophorectomy is performed by your doctor along with different gynaecological surgeries, which include:
Salpingectomy : Removal of your fallopian tubes that are near your ovaries.
Hysterectomy : Removal of your uterus
Salpingo-oophorectomy : Both fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed
Preventive surgery and menopause caused by surgery
Several reasons could cause your doctor to perform an oophorectomy that leads to menopause. Some of these reasons include non-cancerous ovarian tumours or cysts, endometriosis, and ovarian cancer. If your blood flow is affected by a twisted ovary, the doctor might perform ovary torsion. Oophorectomy is performed in some instances as a preemptive measure to reduce the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. It is known as a prophylactic oophorectomy.
It is essential to check your family history for evidence of breast or ovarian cancers in your bloodline. If your ancestors suffered from these types of cancers, you are automatically placed at a higher risk of developing them too. There are other ways, namely genetic testing, that help identify whether you have a mutation present in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
These genes are known to help restrict cancerous tumour cells by producing specific proteins. On the off chance, you inherit these genetic mutations, it makes you even more susceptible to developing breast and ovarian cancers.
The National Cancer Institute put out statistics that states approximately 15 per cent of ovarian cancers can find their cause in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes are responsible for hereditary breast cancers up to 20 to 25 per cent.
The ovaries are responsible for the production of certain hormones that increase the risk of you developing breast cancer. Hence, the removal of your ovaries is your best bet to keep cancer at bay.
You could have your blood and saliva tested as they contain indicators of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene. If you have a family history of such cancers, there is a possibility of your insurance company covering the expense of your tests as well as consultations with a doctor if you’re found at risk. However, it is essential to check your insurance plan to make sure you have coverage.
Getting a positive result does not ensure your doom. It merely means that you are at a greater risk of developing these types of cancers. You can consult a medical specialist to understand the risks you might be vulnerable to. If the risks are indeed huge, you could opt for an oophorectomy. However, his decision must be made after a clear understanding of its repercussions on your health, including paving the way to early menopause.
Every surgery comes with its own sets of side effects. Not only are you put under the influence of anaesthesia, but your body is also invaded by artificial equipment. Several complications might develop following the surgery. These include a blocked intestine, damage to the surrounding organs and infection.
There are various long term effects that oophorectomy can cause. The absence of ovaries could lead to an incredibly steep drop in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. It can cause various side effects.
Symptoms of menopause
Several menopause symptoms can be triggered by a drop in your hormones. These include insomnia, dry vagina, hot flushes and fuzzy memory. Going through the surgery might not make these symptoms appear immediately. However, women who have had the procedure done will experience them sooner than those who haven’t.
Oestrogen helps maintain the strength of your bones. So with the drop in your oestrogen levels, your bone health is put at risk. It makes your bones vulnerable to developing osteoporosis, which makes your bones thinner. Osteoporosis makes your bones more susceptible to breakage.
A decrease in oestrogen could make you vulnerable to heart diseases. It includes heart attack, altered heart function and stroke. It is essential that you must adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a healthy diet. Smoking and other such harmful habits must be discarded immediately as they might make your symptoms worse and the risks greater.
You should have a thorough understanding of all of these side effects before choosing to go for the surgery. A consultation with a doctor can help you make an informed decision.
Oophorectomy causes your hormones to take a sudden plunge that could be detrimental for your health. So your doctor might prescribe hormone therapy after surgery so that the side effects are minimised. Hormone therapy is, however, known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer. So women who have gone through oophorectomy before 45 years of age usually avoid hormone therapy as it puts them at a significantly higher risk of heart disease, neurological disease, cancer and premature death.
There are several alternatives to hormone therapy that can be achieved easily at home. Keeping cooling items nearby and avoiding habits that might trigger your hot flushes, like drinking alcohol and eating spicy food, are some of the measures that must be taken. A water-based vaginal lubricant can take care of your dry vagina and make sex pleasurable again. To beat insomnia and get better quality of sleep, you should avoid smoking before going to bed. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time can help you maintain a regular sleep cycle. Exercise, yoga and meditation can help relieve stress and lead to a healthier life.