Many people considering having a hysterectomy wonder whether or not it will accelerate their entrance into menopause. Though the answer isn’t as straightforward as many would hope, there are some key insights that are crucial to understanding how a hysterectomy can affect your overall health.
Whether you’re weighing the potential impacts against the benefits or wanting to learn more about a scheduled procedure, here’s a guide to help inform you on what to expect when having a hysterectomy.
What is a hysterectomy?
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. There are many reasons why someone may have a hysterectomy, including severe endometriosis, fibroids, and uterine prolapse (when the uterus “drops” into the vaginal canal due to weakened support muscles).
In the United States, hysterectomies are the second most common surgery among people with uteruses. Each year, nearly 500,000 hysterectomies take place.
There are several different types of hysterectomies, but regardless of the type of procedure performed, hysterectomies end menstruation and the ability to become pregnant.
What are the different types of hysterectomy?
Depending on the underlying condition and reason for the surgery, your doctor or surgeon may recommend one of the following types of hysterectomies:
1. Total Hysterectomy. A surgical procedure to remove the uterus and cervix, but not the ovaries or fallopian tubes. This is the most common type of hysterectomy.
2. Hysterectomy with Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy. Removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes (also called salpingo) and both ovaries (oophor). A gynecological surgeon may recommend this procedure to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
3. Radical Hysterectomy. Removal of the uterus, cervix, tissue on both sides of the cervix, and the upper part of the vagina. Often performed in the treatment of cervical cancer.
4. Supracervical Hysterectomy. Sometimes called a partial or subtotal hysterectomy, a supracervical hysterectomy removes the uterus and leaves the cervix in place.
Will I go into menopause if I have a hysterectomy?
All hysterectomies, including a total or supracervical hysterectomy, don’t trigger perimenopause or menopause. This is because although removal of the uterus will end menstruation and the ability to get pregnant, it doesn’t alter estrogen production from the ovaries if they’re left in place. Here are some additional things to know:
Earlier menopause: If you have a hysterectomy with ovaries intact you may experience menopause symptoms a few years earlier than the national average age for menopause (52 years).
“Surgical menopause”: The removal of the ovaries during a hysterectomy can trigger what’s often called “surgical menopause.” This can happen because when ovaries are removed, estrogen levels drop abruptly, triggering menopausal symptoms. In some cases, symptoms can be more severe than when they occur with a natural, more gradual menopause.
Certain health risks: Some studies show that in addition to triggering menopause, oophorectomies (surgical removal of the ovaries) can increase rates of pulmonary and colorectal cancers, coronary disease, stroke, cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, psychiatric disorders, osteoporosis, and sexual dysfunction.
Why do people get a hysterectomy?
- Hysterectomies can be performed to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding that’s unresponsive to other treatment methods
- Severe endometriosis
- Uterine fibroids or non-cancerous growths (also called leiomyomas)
- Increased or chronic pelvic pain
- Uterine prolapse
- Cervical cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Adenomyosis (a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus)
- Other abnormalities that may lead to cancer
How hormones can be affected
Estrogens, the group of hormones responsible for sexual and reproductive development, are produced primarily in the ovaries.
When ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy or bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, these levels plummet dramatically, which can cause a wide array of effects, including surgically induced menopause. The dramatic and severe drop in estrogen levels can also contribute to more severe symptoms than those who experience natural menopause, or non-surgically induced menopause.
Can hormone replacement therapy (HRT) help relieve symptoms?
If a hysterectomy has triggered your menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can offer relief.
By supplementing the hormones no longer being produced by your ovaries, HRT can help to safely and effectively reduce your symptom severity and frequency.
How Evernow can help
The hormonal changes that take place after a hysterectomy with oophorectomy can be difficult, but we’re here to help. Our hormone therapies can help you find relief safely and effectively. With Evernow, we guide you hand-in-hand through the process to ensure that you are a candidate and that you have the treatment best suited to help you manage your cramps and other perimenopause symptoms.
If you’re interested in finding out whether you are a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy, click here.
Hysterectomy. (2018). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4852-hysterectomy
Hysterectomy. (2019). https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/hysterectomy
Hysterectomy versus hysterectomy plus oophorectomy for premenopausal women. (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7388914/
Surgically Induced Menopause—A Practical Review of Literature. (2019). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722518/