Sometimes surgery is unavoidable, whatever your age, but according to a study by Riley Bove MD with the Harvard Medical School women who undergo surgical menopause at an earlier age may have an increased risk of decline in memory and thinking skills. What they mean by an early surgical menopause is the removal of both ovaries before natural menopause and often accompanies a hysterectomy.
If you have had such surgery then you may want to keep a watchful eye on your memory and cognitive skills as the study found that among women who underwent early surgical menopause that the procedure was associated with a faster decline. This was in long-term memory related to concepts and ideas, in memory that relates to time and places and in overall thinking abilities. The results stayed the same after considering factors such as age, education and smoking. This same association was not seen in women who underwent natural menopause.
What Can You Do?
Well you generally can’t avoid life-threatening conditions for which surgery is essential, but you can certainly take action after the event to maintain your hormones and support your system for optimal recovery. Not surprisingly the researchers advocate the use of HRT as they found that the women on longer hormone replacement therapies had slower declines. They did not mention the potential health drawbacks of long-term HRT and certainly did not investigate any natural alternatives.
Other doctors in the US, particularly the late Dr John Lee and current bioidentical DrJeffrey Dach, are much more positive about the benefits of bioidentical hormones after a hysterectomy as the best way for a woman to ensure long term health. Particularly in relation to protection from heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis they saw that using artificial hormones could pose more problems than they solved. There is also a strong case to be made for the role of bioidentical natural progesterone for helping with the ‘brain fog’ that often seems to accompany menopause – whether surgically induced or not.
Usually women with early surgical menopause need to supplement with both progesterone and oestrogen and bioidentical forms of both are available – just not in the medical mainstream.
Further reading from Doctors experienced in bioidentical hormone usage and prescribing: