Sudden Menopause after Hysterectomy Still Overlooked

By: Debbie DeAngelo, RNC, BSN - Director, Center for Healthy Living, UPMC Hamot

I was stunned when my 48 year-old friend Anna called to tell me she was having a “total hysterectomy in five days.” After talking to her extensively about the reason for the surgery and all of her options, I asked what the doctor’s plan was for controlling the inevitable symptoms of sudden menopause. After an uncomfortable silence, Anna replied, “You mean I will go through menopause because of the surgery?”In this day and age, I find it reprehensible that the sole focus of some clinicians is the surgical procedure and the medical reasons behind it. Too often the consequences of a hysterectomy with ovarian removal, notably sudden menopause, are glossed over or not addressed at all. As a registered nurse, a health coach and a woman who entered sudden menopause at the age of 26 due to a hysterectomy, I frequently point out to women that the quality of their life is just as important as all of the other aspects of their health and well-being.

Debbie DeAngelo

Debbie DeAngelo

Although sudden menopause can occur secondary to premature ovarian failure (unexplained menopause before the age of 40) or cancer treatment (chemotherapy, pelvic radiation, and other medication), hysterectomy with removal of the ovaries is the most common cause. If a woman is close to the age of a natural menopause, which is considered to be 45-55 years of age, removal of only one ovary may also trigger a sudden menopause. If a hysterectomy is being recommended, then it’s vital that you ask about all of the options and seek a second opinion. During discussions with the doctor, a premenopausal or perimenopausal woman should specifically inquire about the sudden menopause that would follow the surgery. Three sample questions to ask are: “Will I enter into sudden menopause?”  “What are my options for managing the menopausal changes?” and “Am I a candidate for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy?”

Remember, changes to your diet and lifestyle, as well as the use of dietary supplements, are immensely helpful. I believe that a holistic approach works best. Because sudden menopause occurs abruptly and is accompanied by a greater degree of symptom severity, as compared to a natural menopause, which occurs over a period of several years, medication is often part of a holistic approach…at least on a short-term basis.

Since writing “Sudden Menopause” I have coached hundreds of women back to good health. Although you may not feel exactly the same as you did prior to a hysterectomy, I truly believe that you can restore your vitality and enjoy your life after undergoing a sudden menopause.