Menopause occurs when a woman has not had her period for 12 months or longer.This process naturally happens as a woman ages, as the ovaries stop producing or produce reduced amounts of female hormone. This usually occurs when she is in her 40s or 50s.
However, some woman may go through menopause at a younger age. This is certainly the case for women who have had their ovaries removed.
The ovaries are small organs situated on either side of the uterus. They produce hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, that control a woman's menstrual cycle.
Without ovaries to release hormones, a woman will go through menopause at an earlier time. This can have both short- and long-term effects on women that they should prepare for and be aware of.
Surgical menopause, which is also known as a bilateral oophorectomy, is a procedure in which a woman's ovaries are removed.
In most cases, the procedure is minimally invasive, meaning a surgeon will make small cuts in the lower abdomen to access and remove the ovaries.
Sometimes, a doctor will perform an oophorectomy along with other gynecological surgeries, including:
hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus
salpingectomy, which is the removal of the fallopian tubes that are near the ovaries
salpingo-oophorectomy, which is the removal of both the ovaries and the fallopian tubes
Preventive surgery and surgical menopause
There are several reasons why a doctor may perform an oophorectomy, which induces menopause. These include:
non-cancerous ovarian tumors or cysts
ovary torsion, where an ovary becomes twisted and blood flow is affected
Some women have an oophorectomy to reduce their risk of developing ovarian or breast cancers. Doctors call this a prophylactic oophorectomy.
Women who have ovarian or breast cancers in their family history are at greater risk for developing these types of cancers. Some women undergo genetic testing to identify whether they have mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes produce proteins that suppress cancerous tumor growth.
However, if a woman has inherited genetic mutations to these genes, she is more likely to develop cancer types, such as ovarian and breast cancers.
According to the National Cancer Institute, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for 15 percent of all ovarian cancers. These gene mutations also account for 20 to 25 percent of hereditary breast cancers. Women who have these genes are more likely to get cancer, and at an earlier age.
Continue reading... What are the effects of surgical menopause?
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