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What to expect going into surgical menopause

As I write I am sitting here with five days to wait before I go into hospital and have a full hysterectomy and bilateral-salpingo oopherectomy. That is a removal of my uterus, my ovaries, cervix and my fallopian tubes.

I am 55 years of age you would think that I am through "the worst" as people like to say. However, I started noticing perimenopausal symptoms quite late and just over a year ago when I was put on HRT for my symptoms, I was still having a period. So, it's very difficult to know where I am right now.

However, I am going in with a positive mind knowing that I will still have my Estrogen to fall back on and adjust ...... If I suddenly go 'crazy' .........what's new? my husband would say!!

Seven years ago, I found out I had the BRCA2 mutation, and I readily and quite quickly had a full bilateral mastectomy as there was breast and pancreatic cancer on my side of the family. Both my parents had died at 71 from cancer and I wanted to prevent this from happening to me but..... I hung on to my ovaries for dear life!!! No-one was taking them! I got screened every 6 months and have an ultrasound. Looking back my doctor was amazing but I knew ovarian cancer was very often hard to detect even with screenings. I had waited far too long.

Following my husband's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer two years ago, I decided that I must do this now! He is miraculously, cancer free and I couldn't bear the thought of my getting cancer when it's just a very quick procedure to removing things that I no longer need.........well, the ovaries??? scares me I am not going to lie.

A Bilateral-Salpingo Oophorectomy is when gynaecological surgery removes both the ovaries and fallopian tubes. In this operation, the woman retains her uterus and cervix unless she is having a hysterectomy too which is removal of the uterus. A total hysterectomy is where the cervix is also removed.

Additionally, the ovaries can be removed as part of a complete hysterectomy, where the ovaries are removed together with uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes .

Each women and each case is different and this is decided upon depending on disease or prevention or other gynaecological issues.

The ovaries 'holds most of the cards' for a female body and it is where most of the estrogen, progesterone and testosterone is produced. Once removed can cause menopausal symptoms quite suddenly. This is called surgical menopause.

Menopause usually comes on gradually when perimenopause begins. The symptoms are the same but when a woman has her ovaries removed it tends to be more sudden and intense.

If the uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix is removed but leaves one or both ovaries intact, menopause will probably start within five years of surgery. Therefore, this is not classed as a surgical menopause.

If a post-menopausal woman has surgery to remove her ovaries then the effects are less intense. However, she may still experience post-menopausal symptoms.

The symptoms of menopause can be physical and psychological, and can include:

  • hot flashes and sweating

  • mood swings

  • brain fog

  • irritability

  • loss of libido

  • tiredness

  • vaginal dryness

  • painful sex

Surgical menopause can happen to women at any age and it can be a very distressing and overwhelming time.

It is really important that you have an understanding GP to talk go to or even a therapist that can help you.

My hope is that you do fantastically well if you are planning an operation and I shall be coming back on here in a couple of weeks to let you know how I am doing and feeling.

I have included a link to a wonderful list of recommended practitioners for menopause issues here

Recommended Physicians | The 'Pause Life – The 'Pause Life by Dr. Mary Claire Haver ( which is taken from Dr Mary Havers website who is a highly reputable USA Menopause Obgyn and Specialist.

Much Love Tx

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