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Ovaries | Still Functioning?

From the Menopause and Hormones Articles List

Can our ovaries stop functioning?I had a hysterectomy but retained both of my ovaries. I have been experiencing some symptoms that are menopausal: hot flashes and night sweats. Can our ovaries stop functioning? How can I tell if they are shutting down?

Yes, it is possible for the ovaries to shut down after a hysterectomy. Doctors say that the ovaries may go into shock after surgery, and it may take a while for them to get back to normal. This can be temporary or permanent. Some studies suggest that as many as 50 percent of women who undergo a hysterectomy and retain their ovaries will have them cease to function within five years. If you continue to have menopausal symptoms, check with your doctor. S/he can run hormone level checks and prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for you.

A hysterectomy can often damage the blood supply to the ovaries, which causes them to malfunction, thus decreasing estrogen levels. This decrease in estrogen causes menopause symptoms. In addition to dealing with hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and memory loss, you can also feel like you have an “I don't care" attitude about everything or a lack of interest in things that you used to enjoy—It may look like depression. Diminished libido, irritability, or fatigue are also common menopause symptoms. Because these symptoms can be related to other health issues, it is always good to consult your doctor. Your physician can administer tests such as a vaginal smear and a blood test to detect your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels.

A doppler ultrasound can also help reveal any damage that might have occurred to the ovarian blood supply. If the blood supply is not damaged, then your ovaries should still be able to produce enough estrogen.

If your doctors will not test your hormones, you can try seeking a second opinion. The guessing game can be time-consuming, and you don't want to wait any longer than necessary for relief. Some labs will accept stool and saliva samples and send you results.

You may need a specialist to interpret the results. It is important to state that you are not on hormone replacement therapy and that you want to know how your results compare to someone pre-menopausal.

Keep a calendar and track your symptoms in a symptom diary. Then make an appointment to see your doctor anytime you experience new symptoms or concerns.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

04-12-2003 - 03:09 PM


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