A surgical menopause is one which takes place when a woman’s ovaries are removed, either at the same time as the womb or separately. For most women, the term menopause is defined as the final bleed she will have. It is an entirely natural event and every woman will experience it, if she lives long enough. The word “menopause” is often used to define the period of time that leads up to a woman’s’ final period, although this is strictly a period of time called the “peri-menopause”.
The final menstrual period takes place, usually between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can be earlier or later, the peri-menopause can begin as early as ten years before the final bleed and is caused when the two ovarian hormones, oestrogen and progesterone are no longer stimulating the endometrium to prepare for eggs.
The term “peri-menopause” or “menopause” is usually used to define the symptoms that lead up to the final bleed and is caused by the reduction in the number of egg cells that a woman has. Therefore the age at which a woman has her final bleed will be dependent upon the number of eggs her body has produced.
If you have your ovaries removed at the time of your hysterectomy then you will have an immediate menopause, regardless of your age, this is also called a surgical menopause. If you have a hysterectomy and your ovaries are left intact then you have up to a 50% chance of your ovaries failing within five years of your hysterectomy, this may be because the blood supply to the uterus has been cut off. Radiation treatment following hysterectomy for cancer may also cause the ovaries to fail prematurely.
Even after a natural menopause the ovaries continue to play a part in a woman’s health as they continue to produce a small amount of oestrogen and a more significant amount of testosterone for up to 12 years. Therefore there are indications that women having a hysterectomy should be offered the supplementation of testosterone as well as oestrogen.
The Pocket Guide to Hysterectomy – £5.50 from The Hysterectomy Association. This is essential reading and tell you everything you need to know about the menopause after a hysterectomy.