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What is surgical menopause?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Surgical menopause is when a woman has her ovaries removed by surgery. This makes her periods (monthly menstrual cycles) stop and causes her body to begin menopause. The ovaries release eggs as well as produce estrogen, which regulates monthly periods.

If the ovaries are surgically removed, a woman does not have a natural source of estrogen, and she enters surgical menopause. Menopause can also happen naturally, when a woman’s periods end and she’s no longer able to have children. 

Surgical menopause means surgically removing the ovaries, leaving the body with no natural estrogen source.

Dr. Maria F. Daly, DO
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Menopause is the cessation of normal menses for one year. It occurs normally when the hormones of the ovary stop sending signals to the part of the brain, the pituitary gland to stop the normal cycle to cause a monthly menses.

Surgical menopause occurs when the ovaries are removed from the body. The ovaries produce Estrogen and Progesterone among other hormones needed for the menstrual cycle. When they are removed no hormones from the ovaries are able to send signals to the brain and uterus. Menstruation ceases and postmenopausal effects are felt in the entire body. Since women are unique the response to menopause varies among cultures, environment, body habitus, self-perception and nutritional intake, to name a few variables.

Dr. Julia Schlam Edelman
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)
Surgical menopause occurs when a woman's ovaries are surgically removed before she has made the transition into postmenopause on her own. (If the ovaries are surgically removed after age 55, for example, and a woman is already postmenopausal, she has not experienced a surgical menopause.)

Some women have their ovaries removed (bilateral oophorectomy) prior to menopause for medical reasons. This surgery causes a sudden change in estrogen level, rather than the gradual changes of natural menopause. Thus, women undergoing surgically induced menopause usually experience more abrupt and often more severe hot flash symptoms.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Surgical menopause occurs when a women has her ovaries removed. This causes her to go into menopause suddenly. The procedure is called oophorectomy or ovariectomy. Sometimes this is done at the same time as a hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus, but not always. The ovaries can be removed because of cancer, or to treat or prevent certain types of breast cancer that are fueled by estrogen. Some women with a family history of ovarian cancer have their ovaries removed as a preventive measure. The symptoms of surgical menopause are heightened and quite severe, especially if the woman is relatively young when surgical menopause occurs.

Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Administration Specialist

The removal of your ovaries (oophorectomy) or injury to your ovaries from other surgeries can cause what is known as surgical menopause. Some women's ovaries are removed because they are damaged or are cancerous. In addition, many women's healthy ovaries are removed in conjunction with removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or to prevent the recurrence of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Ovaries may also be removed during a surgery to treat colon, rectal, and cervical cancer.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

More About this Book

Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause

FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC "BIBLE OF WOMEN'S HEALTH," A TRUSTWORTHY, UP-TO-DATE GUIDE TO HELP EVERY WOMAN NAVIGATE THE MENOPAUSE TRANSITION For decades, millions of women have relied on Our...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.