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There is often some confusion for women in Surgical Menopause as to whether or not they are in the same boat as friends or family members who are in or have been through Natural Menopause. Many doctors use Natural Menopause and Surgical Menopause interchangeably when discussing this condition with their patients. It is easy to understand why they do this, as Natural Menopause is the closest reference point to Surgical Menopause, but it is important to understand that they are different animals entirely. One is a natural stage of life that all women experience, the other is the result of surgery and operates more along the lines of a chronic health condition. This distinction is important when understanding why women’s experience in Surgical Menopause can be much more severe than  those women they know in Natural Menopause.


Natural Menopause: Natural Menopause is when a woman’s body ceases to produce an egg each month, her period stops and she no longer has the ability to have children. This is a natural stage of life that coincides with the body’s aging process and typically begins between the ages of 35 to 51, though it can be earlier or later depending on the individual. At the time of natural menopause the ovaries gradually begin producing less and less estrogen and progesterone. But even postmenopausal women, still continue to produce low levels of these hormones for the rest of their lives which contributes to the long-term health of heart, brain, bones and other vital organs. Postmenopausal is the term used to describe women who have gone a full year without a period due to menopause.


Surgical Menopause: Surgical Menopause is when a woman’s ovaries are surgically removed or they are damaged beyond repair due to chemotherapy, radiation or other medications. Unlike women in Natural Menopause hormone production stops both completely and abruptly in Surgical Menopause. Women in Natural Menopause go through gradual stages: there is Perimenopause (the period just prior to menopause), Menopause, and finally, Postmenopause (the period following menopause, when a woman’s period has stopped for a full year), whereas women in Surgical Menopause are thrown immediately into Postmenopause.  Women in Surgical Menopause don’t have the luxury of having their hormones slowly dissipate over time, so they are hit with all the menopausal symptoms at once.


Another thing that distinguishes Natural Menopause from Surgical Menopause is that women in Natural Menopause still produce low levels of hormones for the rest of their lives, women in Surgical Menopause do not.  Therefore women in Surgical Menopause no longer make the hormones necessary to protect their bones, heart, brain and other vital organs over the remainder of their lives. That is the primary reason that whenever possible, the inclusion of HRT is recommended particularly for young women who are years away from when their body would naturally enter menopause. Yet another crucial difference is that women in Natural Menopause can expect to experience menopausal symptoms for several years, but frequently women in Surgical Menopause continue to possess symptoms for the rest of their lives.



While most women in Natural Menopause are able to continue to enjoy a reasonably good quality of life, some women in Surgical Menopause simply do not feel well due to this dramatic loss of hormones and are not able to resume the the level of functionality they enjoyed prior to surgery. Even with the assistance of HRT, for some women Surgical Menopause can be a debilitating chronic health condition that gets in the way of them feeling good and being able to participate fully in their life.


Finally, with the help of HRT and finding the right one for you, or managing symptoms holistically, in combination with the ongoing care of a patient and dedicated physician, many women in Surmeno are eventually able to uncover a treatment plan that gives them back their quality of life.



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