All women go through menopause eventually, but some of us get a head start after undergoing a hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
A hysterectomy is an operation to remove a woman’s uterus. There can be several possible reasons for this procedure, which may include14:
- Endometriosis not cured by medicine or surgery
- Uterine prolapse—when the uterus drops into the vagina
- Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries
- Vaginal bleeding that persists despite treatment
- Chronic pelvic pain; surgery can be a last resort
When a woman gets a hysterectomy, her monthly periods stop, and she will no longer be able to get pregnant.14 A hysterectomy on its own does not cause menopause, though, because estrogen is produced by the ovaries, not the uterus.
If both ovaries are also removed (in a procedure called a bilateral oophorectomy), a woman will reach menopause and may experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Even if one or both ovaries remain, a hysterectomy may result in the end of ovarian estrogen production—and the beginning of menopause—earlier than usual (by an average of 2 to 3 years).3
Hysterectomy is most common among women in their early 40s.15 It is the second most frequent major surgical procedure among reproductive-aged women15—in fact, as many as 1 in 3 women have had a hysterectomy by age 60.14
Life after hysterectomy
As with menopause, every woman’s hysterectomy experience is different. Some women have reported improved sex lives once the surgery relieved them from fear of pregnancy or issues that caused pain or heavy bleeding.3
If you have had a hysterectomy and are now experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes due to menopause, ask your healthcare professional if an estrogen therapy such as Divigel® may help. Your healthcare professional will be able to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Can you tell facts from fiction? Test yourself with our Myth or menopause? section.