Premature Menopause: Coping With Surgical or Early Menopause

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When she was 26, Lara Dietz learned she had hysterectomy remove their ovaries unnecessarily due to fear of ovarian cancer, Shapiro says. Yet, he notes, when ovaries are removed before age 55, other risks are much higher:

  • A woman is 16 times more likely to die from heart disease.
  • A woman is 3 times more likely to die from problems resulting from hip menopause symptoms — loss of the menstrual cycle and onset of hot flashes — is very difficult to accept, says Melissa A. McNeil, MD, MPH, chief of Women’s Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    “When hot flashes happen at 50, you expect it, you know it’s part of the deal,” she tells WebMD. “If you have them at 35, it’s demoralizing — especially if you still have children on the agenda. To find out unexpectedly that (childbearing) is no longer an option is extremely difficult.”

Mood changes and testosterone, the male hormone that women have in small amounts. There’s been a lot of attention in the media about testosterone’s ability to boost libido in women as well as in men. But Shapiro says he doesn’t think the evidence justifies testosterone treatment for most women. “There are so many factors in a woman’s sex drive,” he tells WebMD. “No one has ever shown that libido is solely related to male hormones.”

Hormone therapy can be a valuable tool in treating symptoms of premature menopause, says Shapiro. “We can re-establish normal menstrual cycles, implant fertilized eggs. It’s like there’s no difference.”

Talk to your doctor, says Shapiro. “We believe in giving patients the information they need — like whether to have ovaries removed or not. Don’t make that decision based on age alone. Discuss it with your doctor. Talk about your priorities. Make your decision based on information, not on what you’ve heard from a friend.”