About Hysterectomy & Early Menopause Fatigue

By Eric Benac

Although a hysterectomy can be life-saving, it often leads to further difficulties in a woman's life due to the onset of early menopause and early menopause fatigue. These two processes are sometimes misunderstood. Hysterectomies are a frightening thing for a woman to go through, and once early menopause hits, she may feel like there is nothing she can do but suffer. But understanding what a woman's body goes through in menopause and understanding how to treat the symptoms can make it a much easier process to cope with.

What is a Hysterectomy?

The Mayo Clinic defines a hysterectomy as "... a surgical procedure that removes your uterus through an incision in your lower abdomen. Sometimes the procedure also includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes." The clinic notes that the uterus also can be removed through an incision in the vagina. The vaginal route is the preferred method, as it is less invasive than opening the abdomen. The surgery generally takes about two hours and is often an inpatient procedure. To treat pain after the procedure, it is important to take all your pain medicine, use a heat pad, limit the extremity of your physical movements and eat healthy. Complete recovery usually takes four to eight weeks.

Why Does a Woman Get a Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomies are performed for various reasons. The most common include gynecologic cancer, fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse, persistent vaginal bleeding and chronic pelvic pain. Gynecologic cancer is any cancer that affects a woman's reproductive organs. Fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus that can cause persistent bleeding, anemia, pelvic pain and bladder pressure. Endometriosis is when the tissue lining the uterus expands beyond the uterus and onto the ovaries. Uterine prolapse is when the uterus descends into your vagina, which can lead to incontinence and difficulty with bowel movements. These serious conditions are often curable only with a hysterectomy.

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the process a woman's body goes through as she reaches the end of her fertility. The Mayo Clinic defines menopause as "... the permanent end of menstruation and fertility ..." This happens when the limited amount of eggs in a woman's ovaries runs out. This loss of fertility causes the estrogen in a woman's body to decrease slowly. This causes a series of difficult symptoms. A woman suffering through menopause may experience cramping, sudden mood swings, a deepening of the voice, depression, aches and pains, easy fatigue, an increase in hair growth--including on the lip, and a sense of loss. This usually happens during a women's middle age, but a hysterectomy often triggers early menopause. This is a sudden and sometimes devastating onset of menopause symptoms at a much younger age than normal.

What is Early Menopause Fatigue?

Early menopause fatigue is a series of symptoms and conditions that cause a woman to grow tired more easily and feel weaker than normal. The symptoms of early menopause fatigue are essentially the same as the symptoms of menopause fatigue in general. Physical symptoms include night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, headaches, and joint or muscle pain. Often, a woman will gain weight during menopause, especially around the abdomen. Water retention is very common. Emotional symptoms may include anxiety, depression, intense cravings, and memory loss. These symptoms will be more severe in early menopause fatigue. This is because the estrogen level in the woman's body does not have the chance to slowly decrease over a period of years. With a hysterectomy, the estrogen level in a woman's body is cut off suddenly and entirely, which leads to a rapid and severe onset of menopause symptoms.

What are the Treatments for Early Menopause Fatigue?

Immediately following a hysterectomy, the woman should receive estrogen as quickly as possible. This will help keep the symptoms down to a minimum. If estrogen is not given immediately, she will typically suffer through depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, hot flashes, sweating, irritability and more. The most common treatment a doctor will prescribe for early menopause is hormone replacement therapy. This treatment introduces the hormones that disappear because of a hysterectomy, like estrogen. As time passes, the doctor will decrease dosages slowly to help mimic natural menopause. Not all women can handle hormone replacement therapy. If HRT is unavailable, a doctor may prescribe anti-depressants to deal with the depression caused by early menopause. He may also prescribe medicines like neurontin and clonidine to help with hot flashes. If a woman desires more natural treatments, it is possible to treat these symptoms by consuming soy, alfalfa, fennel and other plants. These plants contain compounds known as phytoestrogens. Bernie Noe, ND, of Green Mountain Natural Health reports that these compounds can help relieve hot flashes, cramping and other menopause-associated symptoms. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation also can help soothe a mind anxious from hormone imbalance.