surgical menopause help...please?

I left hospital on Saturday after having my ovaries and tubes removed. The consultant warned me about menopausal symptoms, but didn’t offer any other information. I woke up very tearful today, which is very unlike me and feel very down. I don’t know whether I have done the right thing or not, but I have googled 'surgical menopause and scared myself ****less. All information I read stresses the need for HRT, which being oestrogen + is never going to be an option.(My history was BC 2 years ago, grade 3, 3cm with 10 nodes infected, 8 x TAC chemo, WLE and 33 rads- I am 43 now and had developed painful ovarian cysts)
I hadn’t realised all the ‘things that go wrong’ when oestrogen isn’t present, I knew of hot flushes and bone problems (My Mum has osteoporosis!) but the prospects of ‘vaginal atrophy’ depression, etc have horrified me.

I feel totally unprepared I guess I am wanting somebody to tell me that these symptoms are not always present. If you have suffered how soon after the surgery did they present themselves, last for? and has anybody sailed through this period ‘symptom free’? What have others done if they can’t have HRT?

I feel that I have adapted to the whole BC rollercoaster so well so now when my life is getting back to normal, why do I feel so scared of menopause when it would have happened to me anyway?

I don’t have anybody to talk to as none of my friends are menopausal yet and my Mum sailed through hers with HRT!

Nobody has mentioned changing from Tamoxifen, the hospital mentioned I needed to contact the breast clinic, but didn’t arrange an appt for me. I feel on my own with no advice or support.

Please can somebody share their experiences of sudden menopause,

Thanks Nicky xxx

I had my ovaries removed at the same time that I had my lymph nodes cleared - that was a month after the mastectomy. (This was a year ago). In all honesty I was so consumed with the misery of surgery and then chemo and then rads I didn’t really notice anything to do with surgical menopause.
I started taking Arimidex 6 months ago and it is hard to know if aches and pains are due to the Arimidex or the menopause - or just a hang over of what I have been through.

I LOVE not having periods anymore. I am 44. I had miserable periods and PMS - so being free of that is wonderful. I know that your vagina can atrophy but I haven’t had any sign of that! And there are non-oestrogenic lubricants you can use. I don’t think I have aged. I haven’t noticed any particular change in my skin. I will say that I don’t feel as quick witted as I used to be. I struggle to recall words and just feel a bit blunt round the edges.

Why don’t you call your BCN and tell them that you are feeling unsupported? It is their job to assist you.

Now you are post-menopausal you can take Arimidex. You need to speak with the onc about this because AIs are doing a slightly better job of preventing recurrence than Tamoxifen.

Good luck with it. Hot flushes are a pain but previous generations of women got through menopause without HRT etc. Try not to worry too much - I am doing ok and am happy that my ovaries have gone. The side effects you read about on the internet aren’t compulsory!
Good luck!

Thanks Ms Molly

Your reassurance and advice are really appreciated. I think that yesterday I was a bit emotional and I’m thinking a bit more rationally today. You’re totally right of course that pre HRT there wasn’t a choice! and I am reassured to hear that you aren’t ‘suffering’ too many horrific effects.

Thanks again for your sensible advice I am just about to phone my BC nurse.

Take care


You are very welcome. Good luck with it all.
It’s not something any of us would want but getting those ovaries out is such an effective way of getting rid of most of the oestrogen.
One thing I have found is that exercise makes me feel better. If I am feeling very tired and achey a half hour bike ride or a good walk makes me feel quite perky!
Take care.

Hi there, I was wondering how you have both come to have your ovaries removed - was this what your surgeon or oncologist recommended? I have just turned 45 and have oestrogen receptive breast cancer. I actually had major surgery 18 months ago which included hysterectomy for endometriosis but my ovaries were left as the surgeon didn’t want to put me into early menopause. How I wish he’d removed them now!
Neither of my doctors have mentioned having ovaries removed and I’ve been wondering whether to raise. I’ve had some chemo and about to have bilateral mastectomy next week.
best wishes,
Elinda x

Hi Elinda

My consultant had asked me to consider having my ovaries removed 2 years ago after my tumour was found to be 100% oestrogen positive. I was a bit reluctant at the time because I was wanting more children! I knew realistically that this wasn’t going to be an option, but I still had that dream. Then last Autumn I started getting a very painful abdomen and I was sent to the gynaecologist for tests. I was found to have large cysts on my ovaries (the gynaecologist suspects this could be due to Tamoxifen!) and my tubes were enlarged and had’abnormal’lumps/swellings in them. This then made the decision for me. So I went ahead and had the op! Keyhole surgery with tiny scars, the op has given me very little discomfort, so this has been easy to recover from, but the menopausal symptoms are starting to kick in and they are more alarming.

Hope this answers your question, out of interest why was the Consultant reluctant to remove the ovaries, was it because of sudden menopause?

hi Nicky

thanks, that makes a lot of sense.

The reason why the surgeon didn’t remove the ovaries back then was because of early menopause and menopausal symptoms. Endometriosis is fuelled by oestrogen as well so HRT wasn’t a good option. I think triggering an early menopuase is never the first line if it can be avoided because of the other problems it can bring.

Due to the amount of surgery I had then all around pelvis and bowel, my GP thinks that my ovaries started failing anyway (apparantly this is quite common after such a large op). They checked and I had low circulating oestrogen levels which is good but in a way I’d rather not have any now!

I’ve been having what are probably menopausal symptoms according to GP such as joint pains and lots of hormonal type headaches. These all got very bad and the decision was made to try me on HRT. All I can say is that within 6 weeks I had a huge tumour appear in my breast. It must have been there before but the HRT really accelerated it’s growth.

I wasn’t able to have kids because of the endometriosis but having the hysterectomy was hard as it was so final - so I understand how you were feeling about having ovaries removed. It took me quite a while to come to terms with and I even had a weep about it two months ago which is 16 months after the operation. Don’t forget that in itself may make you feel down for a while (rather than being depression becuase of menopause).

If it’s any consolation my mum had very little in the way in symptoms. She had hot flushes for a while but nothing else at all. My friend had hot flushes and was a bit emotional for a while but that settled down. It really does vary from person to person. I’m not sure that a sudden menopause makes any difference from a more gradual one, I don’t know enough about it.

I don’t know much about tamoxifan but I belive that you can change onto something else (forgotten it’s name) when you have had menopause. I would start by going to see GP or giving the helpline here a call for advice - they’re a wonderful source of info and advice as I expect you know.
good luck with it all, Elinda xx

Elinda - I’d had some abdomninal pain 6 months before dx and had had scans to see if anything was wrong with my ovaries because it felt very much like ovarian pain to me. Scans showed everything was seemingly ok. When I was dx-ed with breast cancer I told my surgeon about the abdominal pain. The next step would have been a laparoscopy to see what was happening in there - I told them that if they were going in for a look they might as well get the ovaries out too seeing as my bc was strongly ER+. I’d had years and years of fertility treatment so there was some concern that it could be something sinister.
Anyway there was no argument about it, my sureon arranged for the oopherectomy to happen during the operation to remove my nodes.
I am very glad I had it done too.
I know some women have had a real battle with their medics over this. But that wasn’t my experience at all.

I have heard that surgical menopause can make symptoms more intense, but on the flip side it tends to be shorter.

Thanks, I may look into this later. My gynae surgeon said that only place left likely for endometriosis to return was my ovaries so there would be two good reasons for an oophrectomy. It is possible though that I may have been put into a permanent menopause by the chemo as my ovaries were probably failing so I’ll get tested for that after all my chemo is finished.