What Is Induced Menopause?

Menopause usually occurs naturally around 45-55 years of age. However, some women can experience it earlier. This is the case for those who have had an induced menopause.
What Is Induced Menopause?

Written by Maite Córdova Vena, 08 July, 2021

Last update: 08 July, 2021

Generally, most women can distinguish between the stages before, during and after menopause. In each of these stages, they notice several changes and experience various symptoms to a greater or lesser extent. The common thing is that the body, naturally and progressively, goes from one stage to another. However, this isn’t the case in induced menopause.

Unlike menopause that occurs naturally after 45-50 years of age, induced or chemical menopause is one that occurs artificially and abruptly at a younger age. But what do we mean when we say “artificially”? Let’s look at it in more detail below.

Causes

Treatment for breast cancer includes surgery
Paradoxically, some gynecological surgery can cause induced menopause.

When we say that induced menopause is one that occurs artificially, we mean that it occurs without a prior transition, but as a consequence of some type of medical treatment.

It should be noted that this treatment will be to address serious health problems and, of course, to prevent them from having greater consequences that could put a woman’s well-being at risk.

Diseases like breast cancer, endometriosis, and fibroids, whose treatment blocks or modifies estrogens in some way, can often cause induced or chemical menopause. This treatment could be:

  • Surgery to remove one or both ovaries (oophorectomy)
  • Removal of the uterus (hysterectomy)
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Now, at this point, you might be wondering: is induced menopause the same as premature menopause? Not quite.

As explained in the MSD Manual, “Premature menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation before the age of 40. It occurs because the ovaries no longer release eggs (ovulation) regularly and they lose the ability to produce hormones.”

This can have various causes (not only medical treatments), such as genetic abnormalities, immune disorders, metabolic disorders, viral infections, etc.

Symptoms

The causes and risk factors of menopause are natural
The progression of the condition, beyond the symptoms themselves, is what defines induced menopause.

Symptoms of induced menopause (such as hot flashes, fatigue, weight gain, skin changes, decreased libido, sleep problems, emotional ups and downs, urogenital discomfort, etc.) often occur in a more problematic way. For this reason, in some cases, they can become disabling.

“With surgical menopause, menopause occurs abruptly, on the same day as the intervention. In the case of drug-induced menopause, the transition can be brief, as damaged ovaries stop producing hormones for a period of time”

The North American Menopause Society

In a study of surgically-induced menopause, the most frequent and severe symptoms in women who have both ovaries removed are depression, insomnia, irritability, and tiredness.

To a lesser extent, hot flashes, night sweats, and others symptoms. The same symptoms occur in women who have had menopause induced by radiological treatment or chemotherapy.

Complications

By experiencing so many sudden changes at once, people suffer both physically and mentally in induced menopause. For this reason, it’s necessary to carry out strict medical control and treatment.

The main associated complications are depression, osteoporosis, oral problems and cardiovascular diseases. But there may be more, as the case may be.

Treatment of induced menopause

There’s no treatment as such for induced menopause. However, it is possible to treat several of the complaints and symptoms that the patient suffers with.

Medications and recommendations vary from case to case, but for the most part, they include some lifestyle changes. In this sense, the importance of maintaining a good diet, doing physical exercise regularly (following the doctor’s instructions), avoiding self-medication, and quitting tobacco and alcohol consumption is often highlighted.

  • Not all women can resort to hormonal therapy, and it isn’t always recommended.
  • According to the experts at Women’s Health Concern, women who had menopause induced by endometriosis treatment could turn to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Final recommendations

If the doctor has told you that it’s necessary to resort to surgery or a treatment that could induce menopause, ask them to inform you in detail about it and any other options that are available. It’s essential for you to be well-informed so that you can make the most appropriate decisions to take care of your health and enjoy greater well-being.

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