Though most women undergo natural menopause at the age of about 50, some undergo a surgical menopause which is caused by the removal of certain reproductive organs from the body.
It is the ovaries that produce hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and so on, which are responsible for the monthly period and other female bodily functions.
If for some reason the ovaries have to be surgically removed, then there is a dramatic change in the hormones produced and hence menopause symptoms ensue.
What is Surgical Menopause?
When a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) is required to be performed, there is always an attempt made to leave the ovaries in place so that there is as little hormonal change made as possible.
However, it is very often required for the ovaries and the fallopian tube to be removed as well and this kind of menopause is known as surgically induced menopause.
Usually in the case of a hysterectomy that removes the uterus but leaves the ovaries in place, a surgical menopause is not said to have occurred, even though a woman will stop experiencing her monthly period.
This is not surgical menopause and women will most typically experience symptoms of menopause only at the age when natural menopause would have occurred in the natural course.
Surgical menopause can have very significant consequences for a woman and these consequences may be more acute, the younger a woman is – the menopausal symptoms here are usually more severe, occur more often and are of a longer duration than in the case of natural menopause.
So the decision of having such surgery is not something that should be taken lightly or without very serious consideration of all possible consequences.
Ways in which surgical menopause is different from natural menopause
Menopause in due course is a natural occurrence and as such is a gradual process. Symptoms may be noted years before actual menopause in a period preceding it called perimenopause.
There is however no perimenopause when menopause occurs as a result of surgery. It can be very sudden – within just that one day of surgery, a woman becomes post menopausal; so the benefit of that period of gradual transition is not available.
The psychological and physical impact of the surgery is very significant. A complete hysterectomy is a serious surgery which can have a long recovery period.
Consider the fact that a woman has to undergo and deal with the physical pain of a major surgery and at the same time have to grapple with the very real symptoms of menopause as well.
She also has to deal with the psychological consequences of menopause to get used to and adjust to the idea of being menopausal.
The symptoms of surgical menopause are more severe. Owing to the suddenness of the onset of menopause and the sudden reduction of hormones in the body, the symptoms that a woman will typically experience are very severe.
Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, disinterest or even aversion to sex, anxiety and depression may all occur more intensely in the case of menopause that is surgically induced.