Most women enter menopause in their 40’s and 50’s when hormone levels naturally decline. Outside of the natural transition from fertility to menopause, women can abruptly enter menopause after hysterectomy at any age. If you have a hysterectomy, your menopause experience may look a little different compared to if you did not undergo this procedure. Let’s take a look at what menopause after hysterectomy looks like.
What’s the deal with menopause after hysterectomy with ovaries intact?
A hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus. Depending on the reason for operating, a hysterectomy may extend to removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and upper part of the vagina. When the uterus is removed, a woman loses her periods and the ability to get pregnant. If the ovaries are removed, the woman will enter surgically-induced menopause immediately after surgery because the source of hormone production (especially estrogen) is removed. However, if the ovaries remain intact, a woman will enter menopause gradually, much like women who have not had a hysterectomy.
Despite the uterus being absent, some women still report symptoms of PMS because their hormones continue to cycle even though they no longer have endometrial shedding during the menstrual phase of their cycle.
Many women prefer to keep their ovaries if they are not in menopause yet and their ovaries are healthy. Keeping your ovaries can help reduce your risk for medical conditions associated with low estrogen including osteoporosis and heart disease. However, if you have a family history of ovarian cancer or if your surgeon finds something wrong with them in surgery, it may be beneficial to remove them. You will want to talk to your surgeon about their recommendations for you in your particular case.
What does menopause after partial hysterectomy look like?
A partial hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus. Therefore, you still have your ovaries and will likely enter menopause in your 40’s and 50s. Some studies have found that women who have a partial hysterectomy enter menopause within 5 years of surgery. There is evidence that suggests that women are at an increased risk for earlier ovarian failure when they undergo a hysterectomy.
How long does menopause last after hysterectomy?
The duration of menopause varies from woman to woman. If your ovaries are intact, you may enter menopause within 5 years of surgery or begin perimenopause around the time your female relatives started. Again, each woman is unique in how long menopause lasts.
If you have an oophorectomy (removal of your ovaries), you will need to be prepared to enter menopause immediately after surgery. Your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy to help reduce the negative side effects of menopause and lower your risk for medical conditions associated with menopause. Women who have an oophorectomy and are younger than 45 are at an increased risk for developing cancer, neurological, and cardiovascular diseases if they are not on HRT. However, HRT has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in at-risk women. Together with your doctor, you will determine the best course of action for you.
What happens when you get a hysterectomy after menopause?
Some women after menopause may need a hysterectomy. Indeed, post-menopausal hysterectomy may be warranted in the presence of:
Thickening of the endometrium
Increase in the size of fibroids
If you notice any unusual symptoms after menopause, including vaginal bleeding and excess discharge, consult your doctor.
Even though you may be post-menopausal, your reproductive organs still play a role in your overall health. If you undergo a hysterectomy after menopause, it is unlikely that you will experience hormone fluctuations as your ovaries have already decreased sex hormone production. As with any surgery, you will need time to recover and will want to follow-up with your doctor as recommended.
If a hysterectomy is in your future, connect with other women starting their menopause journey to share tips and tricks on how to thrive during this season. Whether menopause is natural, sped up, or surgically-induced, we are all susceptible to the numerous symptoms that can make life downright challenging at times. Don’t trudge through this season alone. Join us in our Perry Community right now!
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet the Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care, to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience is related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.