How Long Does Surgically Induced Menopause Last? Expert Opinion

Last updated 04.04.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 8 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Surgical menopause is quite common, and as the name suggests, it happens if your reproductive organs, responsible for your menses, are removed surgically. A study conducted showed that around 3.7% of women went into menopause prematurely. Of them, 2.1% had natural menopause, while 1.7% had surgical menopause. 

Many women who have undergone surgeries where their ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus have been removed go through menopause early, before 45, or prematurely, before 40. Now, the primary query that most women are keen on knowing is how long surgical menopause lasts. Will it go on forever? That’s what I will deal with in this article. I will cover vital aspects like what surgical menopause is, how long it lasts, and its aftereffects. So, let’s get started.

What is Surgical Menopause?

As mentioned, if you experience menopause due to the result of any surgery, that is surgical menopause. There are many surgeries where your reproductive organs get affected, which include the removal of the fallopian tube, cervix, ovaries (one or both), and uterus.

If you have undergone bilateral oophorectomy involving the removal of both ovaries, you will experience menopause right after the surgery. In the case of a hysterectomy, which consists of the removal of the uterus surgically, you may go through menopause if both your ovaries have also been removed.

However, if one or both ovaries remain intact during hysterectomy, then you will not have menopause right away, but soon, probably five years from the time of the surgery. The reason for this is that the surgical procedure may have affected the ovaries, causing them to cease functioning much earlier than the estimated time. 

Studies have deduced that when one has had a hysterectomy, they may go through ovarian failure earlier (by four years).

How Long Will Surgical Menopause Last?

If both your ovaries have been removed due to oophorectomy, you will experience menopause immediately after the surgery. Menopause occurring under such circumstances is permanent and will remain throughout your life.

Though surgical menopause is our topic of discussion, I would also like to mention treatment-induced or medical menopause. If on chemotherapy as a part of cancer treatment, menopause may be permanent or temporary. This depends on several factors, like your age, the kind and dosage of drugs, and even the duration of your treatment.

A healthcare provider in an online session mentioned, “Chemotherapy puts your ovary to sleep.” In most women, this phase of the stopped period could last for a short time. Your period mostly resumes in eight months to two years after chemotherapy has stopped.

However, if a woman has reached the menopausal age during the chemotherapy treatment, chances are that her periods may never return after the procedure. She may enter into menopause completely.

Some data suggests that 25 to 50% of women in their 30s will have their menses again upon the completion of treatment. However, one thing to note is that even if the period resumes, women undergoing chemotherapy will have menopause earlier than those who haven’t undergone any chemotherapy treatment. 

For those at an increased risk of recurrence of breast cancer, the doctors often advise the surgical removal of ovaries. Sometimes, medications may even be prescribed to stop your periods entirely.

What are the Causes of Surgical Menopause?

People often undergo surgical treatment, particularly oophorectomy, to treat certain conditions. I have explained these in detail below. 

  1. Endometriosis doesn’t have a cure. Those with deep or recurring endometriosis may be suggested hysterectomy and oophorectomy together. Many experts consider this the ultimate resort to lessen pain and other symptoms of this condition, especially when no other treatment procedures seem to work effectively in providing relief. 
  1. Ovarian torsion involves the ovary twisting around the ligaments holding it in place. The only treatment for ovarian torsion is surgery. It mainly occurs on a single side. However, if both ovaries are removed in this process, the outcome will be early menopause. 
  1. Individuals with a risk of ovarian or breast cancer or both might undergo tests to check their susceptibility to cancer. The tests involve checking whether some mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes could make them increasingly prone to breast and ovarian cancer. Many doctors recommend women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations go through surgical removal of their ovaries once they do not want to get pregnant anymore.
  2. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, which primarily involves the pelvis, and some hormone-suppressing therapy may result in temporary or permanent menopause.

What Can You Expect When You Have Surgical Menopause?

Natural menopause happens over time, where you go through perimenopause and then menopause. Surgical menopause occurs suddenly right after the surgery. The impact of surgical menopause is closely similar to natural menopause.

However, the effect could be intense or acute since the hormonal changes happen out of the blue. Your body doesn’t get time to adjust to the fluctuating and changing hormone levels. The symptoms are similar to natural menopause, which include:

A woman once asked in an online discussion when the symptoms of surgically induced menopause would come to prominence. A medical expert replied that they may appear within a few hours after the surgery or in a few days. All of it depends on the severity and intensity of the procedure. 

Tips to Cope with Surgical Menopause

The trauma of the surgery, in addition to the sudden menopausal symptoms, could be distressing. However, proper treatment and lifestyle changes will help you recuperate considerably. Most of the tips aren’t any different from what you must follow in the case of natural menopause. 

  • Avoid trigger foods like spicy dishes, caffeine, and alcohol, which may trigger hot flashes. 
  • Pay more attention to exercise, which will help boost your overall health. Strenuous exercise after surgery isn’t recommended. Yet, you could contact a physical therapist who would guide you into the kind of workouts that would be ideal during recovery. If you have had an oophorectomy, it may take 2-4 weeks to get active again. 
  • Make sure that you sleep well for at least seven hours at night. That will speed the healing process and even help you deal with sudden menopausal symptoms with ease. 
  • Stay hydrated. Also, be extra cautious about your diet. Include fresh fruits, vegetables, animal protein, nuts, seeds, legumes, gluten-free grains, and different kinds of fats and oils in your diet. You may talk to the doctor or even opt for nutritional counseling to learn what to eat after undergoing surgical menopause. 
  • When you have had surgery, followed by menopause, keeping your stress levels in control may be a mammoth task. Yet, you must consciously try to calm your mind, as increased stress may aggravate your symptoms. Breathing and relaxation techniques may help in this regard. You may even seek a counselor’s assistance in this regard. 

FAQs

What are the complications of surgical menopause?

The risks of surgical menopause are slightly higher than those of natural menopause because everything happens suddenly. Your body doesn’t have time to adjust to hormonal fluctuations, so the symptoms are more severe than natural menopause. 

There could be long-term effects, and you may be more susceptible to bone ailments, heart problems, and cognitive issues. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking utmost care of your health is essential.

How does Hormone replacement therapy help in surgical menopause?

Some women prefer taking hormone therapy at least till the time they reach 60 so that the sudden hormonal dip could get compensated in some way. However, a lot depends on the kind of surgical menopause you have had and your overall health. 

So, you must talk to your doctor about this and see if you qualify for hormone therapy. Your healthcare provider will also decide on the dosage and the kind of HRT you need. HRT comes with its set of contraindications. E.g., if you have had estrogen-dependent breast cancer, then taking more estrogen from outer sources could aggravate your condition. Discussing the options with the doctor is essential.

Conclusion

Surgical menopause isn’t as frightening as it sounds. For some women, getting their ovaries removed will be a lifesaving experience indeed. You can overcome the discomfort in the long run with proper care and management. 

We spoke about HRT, and in this regard, it is essential to mention cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps in overcoming many surgical menopause symptoms, particularly psychological ones. 

If you are undergoing oophorectomy, hysterectomy, or any surgical procedure inv9olvcing removal of your ovaries, talk to your doctor about the treatment and management procedures in advance. 

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.