A hysterectomy is often termed as surgical menopause and can have many of the same symptoms as natural menopause. However in a lot of ways the symptoms of hysterectomy and menopause are different as well so let us look and how similar and different they can be.
How are Hysterectomy and menopause similar?
If a woman undergoes a radical hysterectomy where her uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes as well as ovaries are removed, she will experience immediate menopause, and the symptoms of menopause may be quite severe and extreme as well.
One of the first consequences of a hysterectomy is the cessation of a woman’s monthly period and her inability to have any children (or any more children if she is already a mother).
Menopause is also said to have occurred when a woman is unable to get pregnant anymore and when she has gone a full year without having a menstrual period.
There is another way in which hysterectomy and menopause can be similar even in the case of conservative surgery that retains the ovaries.
Health care professionals often note that when the uterus is removed, the ovaries tend to go into shock in a sense and even though they are not removed, they may stop functioning normally to produce the amount and the levels of female hormones that they are supposed to. This can also have an impact similar to the symptoms of menopause.
Hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and tiredness, vaginal dryness, mood swings, changes in libido and many other symptoms may manifest due to the sudden fall in estrogen levels that a woman will experience.
There could also be longer term consequences of hormone deficiency. Severe symptoms in both hysterectomy and menopause may require medical intervention such as Hormone Replacement Therapy.
How are menopause and hysterectomy different?
In conservative surgery for removal of a woman’s reproductive organs, the ovaries are left in place. In fact this is recommended and doctors will try and retain the ovaries in situ unless there is a medical need to remove them as well. In such cases, since only the uterus is removed with or without the cervix and fallopian tubes and ovaries are retained, the woman doesn’t experience sudden and severe menopause symptoms.
Here hysterectomy and menopause are different in that if the hysterectomy is performed during a woman’s reproductive years (before natural menopause), she will still undergo the natural symptoms of menopause years later. For instance a woman who undergoes a hysterectomy for medical reasons in her 20’s or 30’s, will still experience menopause at the usual age of between 45 and 55 years when her ovaries naturally reduce production of estrogen in the due course.
In conclusion, a woman needs to understand that both hysterectomy and menopause can have life altering consequences and some very significant symptoms that can negatively impact quality of life. There is no reason why women have to suffer in silence. Options for treatment and management of symptoms should be discussed with a doctor to enjoy a normal and happy life even after hysterectomy or menopause.