Most women go into menopause, gradually, in their 40s. I’m in a different category. When I get my ovaries removed and undergo a hysterectomy in just a few weeks, I’ll wake-up from the operation 37-years-old and I’ll immediately be in menopause.

It’s called surgical menopause, and I’m told, it’ll be unlike regular menopause. Because it’s not gradual, my symptoms might be worse than those experienced by women who go through it naturally. There are a multitude of possible side-effects including, hot flashes, fatigue, and moodiness. Moodiness is one of my husband’s biggest concerns; I’m bitchy enough already.

I can, of course, take hormones and there are a lot of options. I could take pills or stick on a patch. There are regular hormones and bio-identical hormones. I could choose commercial hormones or compounded hormone preparations. Compounded hormone preparations sound fancy but they’re actually just custom-made cocktails designed to meet the needs of the individual woman taking it. The tricky thing is they’re not FDA approved. I’ve learned a lot about my options by visiting the surgical menopause section of FORCE’s website. The website is designed specifically for women like me who face a hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

In the months that I’ve been researching my options, I’ve met a lot of women who share my BRCA1 status and who’ve also chosen prophylactic surgery. Some opted to have a patch put on right in the recovery room. Others began taking hormone replacement pills before they were discharged from the hospital. Others waited.

I’m in the “wait and see” camp.

How can I choose which hormones to take (if any) when I don’t even know which symptoms I’ll have? I’ll decide later. Maybe I’ll choose to do something, or maybe – just maybe — my symptoms won’t be that bad and I’ll do nothing at all.

One thing at a time; just let me get through the surgery first.


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