Early Menopause From a Partial Hysterectomy

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A partial hysterectomy is another name for a subtotal hysterectomy, a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus while leaving the cervix intact. Since a hysterectomy also leaves the ovaries in place, most women continue to ovulate and release hormones, only without menstruating since the uterus is gone. However, sometimes removing the uterus causes trauma to the ovaries, cutting off their blood flow and shutting them down. Most of these cases are temporary, but for some women, it is permanent. The risk of going through an early menopause from a partial hysterectomy is low, but it does happen to some women.

Effects

  • Early menopause caused by a partial hysterectomy causes the exact same symptoms as menopause that occurs naturally. These symptoms include hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats, low sex drive, poor memory and vaginal dryness. Early menopause also causes several health problems that women normally don't have to worry about until later in life. The hormonal changes cause bone loss, which raises the risk of osteoporosis at an earlier age than naturally occurring menopause. Heart disease and stroke are also health risks associated with early menopause, probably due to the lower amount of estrogen in the body after ovulation ceases. The risk of developing arthritis also increases after menopause, so early menopause can cause achy joints at an earlier age.

Identification

  • Besides physical symptoms, there are several tests available to check hormone levels if a woman feels like she is entering menopause. These tests are only reliable if the woman takes them several months after her partial hysterectomy since the results could be temporary before that. Over-the-counter tests check for high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels in the urine and work the same way as pregnancy tests. Blood FSH tests ordered by a doctor are more reliable, and insurance companies usually cover the cost of the test. High FSH levels indicate a low estrogen level caused by a cease in ovulation, otherwise known as menopause. These tests are not perfect, but do offer a good idea of whether menopause is happening.

Time Frame

  • It is normal to experience some symptoms of menopause post-hysterectomy. These symptoms usually fade within six weeks, and are due to the ovaries adjusting to regular function after uterus removal. After six weeks, early menopause is a possibility. At your six-week checkup, discuss concerns regarding early menopause with your doctor.

Prevention/Solution

  • Once the hysterectomy is complete, there's no way to fix ovaries that stop functioning. For some women, hormone therapy or bioidentical hormone replacement is the treatment for menopause. Other than hormones, there are several ways to deal with the symptoms of menopause via home remedies. These remedies include cooling pillows for night sweats, wearing layers to accommodate hot flashes and using lubricant for vaginal dryness. Regular exercise and a healthy diet also help with fatigue and weight gain.

Misconceptions

  • Most women don't realize that menopause symptoms are common after a partial hysterectomy, especially the first two weeks after the procedure. Usually the symptoms fade until they disappear around six weeks post-surgery. These symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman. While many women experience hot flashes, not all women will have them. The less-common symptoms, such as insomnia, are often overlooked and often thought of as due to other medical conditions.

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