Although it can take most women up to a decade to progress through perimenopause and menopause, the process gradually allows the woman time to adjust as hormone levels fall. However, the changes can be sudden for women who undergo an oophorectomy as a preventative measure.
No matter the reason for this medical intervention, the patient will need help dealing with the aftermath of surgical menopause, especially since the woman can feel like she has aged 15 years overnight.
Because there is no gradual adjustment period, surgical menopause can bring on instant symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety and vaginal dryness. The severity of these symptoms can also be heightened due to surgical intervention.
A greater level of care and attention needs to be provided to women facing surgical menopause. This means you must give your patients plenty of time and information so they can take on board, understand what to expect following surgery, and not be left unsupported when dealing with the aftereffects.
Risks associated with surgical menopause
Recovery from medically induced menopause can be much more challenging and take longer than the patient anticipates. Your patients will need to be made aware of the many risks that can develop from the surgery so they can take proactive steps to manage and reduce the severity of any conditions that arise. These risks include:
- Heart Disease: One of the main issues experienced following surgical menopause is the development of heart disease, especially in women who smoke and are overweight.
- Osteoporosis: Early onset of osteoporosis is a risk for women due to lower estrogen levels. According to research, postmenopausal women can lose up to ten per cent of bone mass within the first five years following menopause. This increases the risk of bone fracture rates long-term.
- Rapidly ageing skin: Dry skin and wrinkle formation can be accelerated following surgical menopause. The loss of the ovaries causes rapid estrogen decline, reflecting in skin flushing, wrinkles, sagging, itching, drying and thinning and slow wound healing.
- Zero Libido: The loss of fertility through the removal of the uterus and ovaries can leave patients with a lower or complete lack of sexual desire for their partner. Even when the sexual drive remains, the patient may experience pain or discomfort during intercourse through vaginal dryness.
Practitioner Development UK Limited offers a range of training courses and practical workshops for medical staff across all disciplines. We recommend the following online course for medical practitioners responsible for supporting and caring for postmenopausal women.
A126 Caring for women around the menopause: Online
This is a four-hour interactive course held online. It is an introductory course aimed at helping medical staff manage peri and postmenopausal women by giving them a sound foundation in caring for their patients in a positive, supportive and engaging way.
This course is ideal for Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Practice Nurses, First contact nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Allied Health Professionals. It will enable health care providers to have the following:
- Greater awareness around the impact of menopause on the health and well-being of women
- Appreciate the potential barriers and hurdles for women in accessing advice and support around the menopause
- Increased knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the menopause
- Understand the risks and benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- Be aware of the other treatment options available for women
- Be more confident in counselling women regarding treatment choices around the menopause
- Know where to signpost women to up-to-date information to aid their decision making
- Be aware of the red flags and when to refer women for more specialist care and treatment