Menopause And A Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical operation, which involves removing the uterus, also known as the womb. This procedure is most commonly performed on women in their 40s and 50's.

If you have a hysterectomy before you reach menopause and your ovaries are also removed, your periods will automatically stop after the procedure; if one or both of the ovaries are left, it is common to go through menopause around 1-5 years after surgery. If the ovaries are removed, this is known as surgical menopause and women are commonly treated with HRT (hormone replacement therapy) afterwards. HRT helps to alleviate symptoms caused by a reduction in oestrogen levels, such as hot flushes, night sweats, tiredness, mood swings and vaginal dryness.

You may be advised to have a hysterectomy if you have chronic pain in your pelvis, you suffer from very heavy periods, you have fibroids (benign tumours) or you have ovarian, cervical or womb cancer. This is a major operation and afterwards, it can take some time to heal and recover fully; a period of rest is highly recommended. There are risks associated with a hysterectomy and these will be explained to you in full before you decide whether or not to have surgery; usually, the procedure will only be recommended when the benefits far outweigh the risks. Possible complications include bleeding, infection, allergic reaction to general anaesthetic, damage to the ureter or bowel and blood clots (also known as thrombosis).

Hysterectomy and early menopause

A hysterectomy will trigger menopause and this is a serious consideration for younger women, as they may still wish to try and have a baby. If you are desperate to conceive, discuss this with your doctor and they will help you to weigh up the pros and cons of the procedure; in some cases, it may be possible to delay the procedure, while in others, the reason for the hysterectomy may make it very difficult to conceive and put your health at risk and therefore it may be more beneficial to have the procedure earlier rather than later. If you do decide to have the operation, support and advice will be available to you.

Having a hysterectomy early can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis; if you have the procedure, you may be offered medication to help prevent osteoporosis.

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