Experiencing early menopause

The menopause is something that happens naturally for women between the ages of 45-55 when a woman's levels of oestrogen gradually decline and her periods stop.

You're probably used to hearing about the menopause in relation to women growing older.

But if you have surgery to remove your ovaries before menopause happens naturally you will enter a surgical menopause straight away.

A surgical menopause is essentially the same as a natural menopause but it happens earlier and more suddenly.

Questions in this section:

What are the symptoms of a surgical menopause?

Some women experience symptoms more intensely after a surgical menopause, compared with a natural menopause, due to the abrupt onset of hormonal changes.

Symptoms of a surgical menopause can include:

  • Hot flushes which can happen occasionally or frequently, day and night. They don’t usually last long, but can leave you feeling tired, anxious, frustrated, sweaty and hot, and they can be accompanied by heart palpitations
  • Changes in the way you feel including irritability, poor concentration, and poor memory
  • Vaginal discomfort and dryness leading to painful sex
  • Needing to wee more frequently and urgently
  • Less common symptoms including brittle nails, thinning of the skin, hair loss and aches and pains

There are many different treatment ways of treating the symptoms of a surgical menopause including hormone replacement therapy.

How long does a surgical menopause last?

It is impossible to say how long symptoms will last. Some women have hardly any problems and symptoms disappear quickly, while others have symptoms for many years. It really is different for everyone.

Are there any long-term health effects linked to a surgical menopause?

After a surgical menopause you will be advised to take measures to ensure that you remain healthy in the years ahead. This will include protecting your bones from osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy heart.

Early menopause can increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis or loss in bone density which, for some women, may lead to an increased risk of fractures.

You should be offered a DEXA scan to assess the density or strength of your bones, which will help to predict your future risk of fracture.

You can explore the different ways of treating the menopause in order to preserve your heart and bone health.

What can I do to reduce the effects of surgical menopause?

There are many different treatment options to choose from including hormone replacement therapy.

Experiencing a surgical menopause can be hard. You may feel:

  • Too young to be going through the menopause
  • Worried about your options to have a baby
  • Less feminine
  • Worried about the future

It may be beneficial to talk to a menopause specialist about how you're feeling.

Or you may wish to see a counsellor who will offer a non-judgemental space to explore how you're feeling.