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I'm going in for surgery in November, a hysterectomy that I've put off for too long. I'm 49, and I get what I think are migraines related to hormones. The last couple of years I've been going through "the change" and my migraines have been all over the board, ranging from disappearing, to coming back more frequently, but aren't nearly as bad as they were five years ago. I'd really like the surgeon to take out my ovaries, but is that the smart choice? I don't go in for my preop to talk to my doctor about this until the day before surgery. I'm on day three of a migraine right now. Do any of you have experience with having your ovaries removed? And are the "side effects" not so bad, or did your body really miss the hormones?

 

 

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Hi Bonnie,

I am sure the surgeon will tell you that if you remove the ovaries, you will experience menopause. If you have already gone thru this, you should not have a problem. Otherwise, you will need to take hormones for awhile, which might defeat your purpose of having the ovaries removed. Personally, I would opt for the ovaries to be gone too. So many other things, like cancer of the ovaries is hard to detect before it is widespread. If I had my way, the breasts would go too! My opinion is very radical, mostly because I was an oncology nurse for many years, and saw this happen over and over. It is so very tragic, that those parts of us that make us who we are, turns on us as we get older. 

Debbie

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I had uterus and ovaries removed when I was in my 40's.  I didn't take any hormones.  I did have a lot of hot flashes and was generally miserable, but muddled through them because of all the hype about hormones.  The doctor said they cause cancer.  Well, I got cancer anyway and I hadn't taken them.  I don't know if migraines will go away with the surgery.  Before my surgery the doctor tried hormones to regulate some of the problems I was having and the hormones caused the most horrendous migraines I've ever had.  I never had headaches before.  I mean vomiting, hiding under the covers in the dark holding my head type migraines.  No thank you.  Stopped those right away. 

 

My suggestion is to take the hormones if they help and make you feel better.  I saw no reason to keep my ovaries.  Others may disagree.  On a good note...I do not miss the ovaries or the uterus.  Much better without them.  It was a good thing.

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Bonnie - good luck with your surgery.  I had a hysterectomy back in my 30s, and they left my ovaries.  The hysterectomy was one of the best things I ever did for myself because I had endometriosis, and the monthly agony was more than I could bear.  It was very freeing to be done with it.  I guess I went through the normal progression of menopause because I still have my ovaries, but my hot flashes were pretty nasty, so I began a very low dose of estradiol each day.  I'm 60 and I still take them.  The increased risk of cancer is generally uterine, and I don't have one of those any more.  I guess my best advice would be to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor and make the decision from there.  Best wishes for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

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Bonnie--My migraines began to abate when I took tamoxifen to suppress the estrogen after breast cancer in 1996 (when I was 43).  When I needed a hysterectomy 5 years later, the doctors also took the ovaries since my cancer was estrogen supported.  There is a down side--I immediately went into menopause and my body began other aspects of aging at the same time.  For the first time in my life, I struggle with weight gain.  I think these effects are outweighed by the health advantages for me, but it is a weighing process that you will have to do for yourself.

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After finding I had ovarian cysts when I was 50, I had my ovaries and womb removed. Thankfully I was very lucky and the cysts were benign. I went on hormones tablets or a while then because I would forget to take them the doctor gave me hormone patches. But after 2 years I decided I did not want to take hormones anymore. I had the odd Hot flash but nothing I could not put up with.

It did take me several months to recover as my wound was cut downwards as opposed to across the bikini line.

If you can try the patches as you only need to change them twice a week.

Good luck with the op, and after take it easy and don't try do more than you can.

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Bonnie,

 

It is a tough decision.  I had a hysterectomy about 11 years ago, including my ovaries.  In my case I had collapsed lungs because of endometriosis.  My cycles were miserable and my hormones were all over the place.  I have never once regretted the surgery, mostly because 14 collapsed lungs can wear a girl out!  The bonus of removing the ovaries was no hormones so no collapses.  I also am so level all the time, not the up and down of those cycles.  This sounds weird but it took me over a year to get used to that!  I too suffered from migraines and while they haven't gone away completely they have gotten way better, probably 95% better.  So the downside, HOTFLASHES!  I couldn't go on hormone supplements for at least a year and I had HOTFLASHES a lot, probably 30 - 50 a day.  I would make everybody laugh because I'd say sweater on, sweater off and at night it was covers on, covers off.  I have never in my life been hot like that, except when I was pregnant but nothing compared.  I did go on low doses of hormones for about 3 or 4 years and then had a collapsed lung so I've been hormone free now for about 3 years.  I still have hotflashes but not as frequent.  I'm still hotter than I ever used to be but think about how much I save on heating my house!  Unfortunately hubby is now freezing all the time.  

 

On a good note I'd say my hysterectomy was one of the easiest surgeries I've had.  Just remember you will feel really good after a week but you have lots of healing to do on the inside.  Don't push it and don't risk the complications.  Good luck!

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Thanks you ladies for all the replies! I had hoped it would be okay to ask of your experiences. The hot flashes have acquainted themselves a little with me so I guess I will get more after the ovaries are gone, I pray not 30 to 50 a day like Heidi! I hate to be hot and sweaty as it is in the summer!! Maybe we should move to Alaska. LOL Kath, you mention being cut up and down instead of sideways. That's what they were going to do to me 10 years ago as they thought my uterus was too big to get it out the other (2) ways (I have 5 very large fibroids). Now I'm worried because it is being done robotically and they will "cut it up" but not the morcellation that is supposed to be a high risk because of spreading cancer if present. I'm going to leave it in God's hands as I really can't put this off any longer. My back and tailbone and insides are painful all the time and I don't have much room left in my tummy area. The doc is hopeful he can do the robotic surgery on me but said if not, he will switch to the "old" style hysterectomy. It would be nice to know if it's a two or eight week recovery, depending whether I get two big going through muscle incisions or just five little portals. I praying for portals and going home the next day!! Thank you for all the well-wishes :)

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Thanks you ladies for all the replies! I had hoped it would be okay to ask of your experiences. The hot flashes have acquainted themselves a little with me so I guess I will get more after the ovaries are gone, I pray not 30 to 50 a day like Heidi! I hate to be hot and sweaty as it is in the summer!! Maybe we should move to Alaska.   :)

 The doctor tells me I'm an exception!  I guess I just like to be off in my own league!  LOL  There have only been about 200 cases with collapsed lungs from endometriosis as well.  The my GYN and Thorasic Surgeon like to argue over who gets the journal credits for my case!  This is not something I want to be famous for.  My hotflashes set it hard and fast, exactly 3 days after surgery.  Dr. said it was normal that you start off hard and then it gets better.  Some woman have no hot flashes some have lots but most don't get them as frequently after a couple of years.  I don't get them as bad as I used to, still probably 10 - 20 a day on most days.  I don't wear heavy sweaters any more that is for sure and in the winter the concrete steps covered in ice and snow are heaven sent!  I've melted my feet prints into them.  I had the 5 hole method but the uterous was birthed.  I still had a 6 week recovery.  Like I said I actually felt great about 4 days after.  Just had to remind myself that if I was tired to rest and not to lift things I shouldn't.  

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Heidi, your case of endometriosis is incredible. You are lucky they figured it out and were able to take care of it! The most important thing is that you feel better and are here to tell about it. I'm looking forward to recovery so I can have some me time and be justified in being lazy and reading. I'm ready for that part. LOL

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Heidi, your case of endometriosis is incredible. You are lucky they figured it out and were able to take care of it! The most important thing is that you feel better and are here to tell about it. I'm looking forward to recovery so I can have some me time and be justified in being lazy and reading. I'm ready for that part. LOL

Bonnie it was definitely an amazing diagnosis.  I wish I had it on camera because never in a milliion years would I have thought that.  I had a procedure before they figured it out called a plural abrasion.  The idea is they collapse your lung, go in with a scrubber and scrub the inside of your chest wall, then inflate your lung and hope that the scab creates enough scar tissue so that your lung can't collapse.  After the 1st collapse I had about a 25% chance of a 2nd after the 2nd I had a 75% chance of a third so since I was on my 5 or 6th by the time of the surgery I was willing to give it a try.  You know it isn't going to be fun when you have surgeons tell you how painful the procedure is.  Well the procedure was a piece of cake since I was sleeping, lol the after surgery was tough.  I was in the hospital for 8 days with 2 chest tubes and I can't describe the pain.  No pain meds were working for the pain or to let me sleep.  I basically slept about 8 hour in 8 days.  They gave me so much medicine to make me sleep that all I did was throw up.  I was told it was about a week recovery, that was the biggest lie of all!  It took a good 6 - 8 weeks before I felt normal and I couldn't sleep laying down for well over a month.  After all of that I only made it 9 months until the next collapse.  By that time we had moved so I had to start all over with doctors and specialists.  Thankfully God put me in the right place and in the right care!  The thorasic surgeon agreed with all that had been done previously and said my body didn't create enough scar tissue and that was why it didn't work.  This time we could do the plural abrasion using acid to burn the lung cavity.  I said no thanks I'll deal with the collapses, one about every 3 months.  He said he didn't blame me.  At that point he asked me where my cycle was during my collapses and I said, "Well if a collapsed lung weren't bad enough they always happen the day before or the day of my collapse."  He got this big joyful look and exclaimed, "You have catamenial neumothorax and need to see your GYN."  Me, "huh?"  I went to my GYN who happened to specialize in endo and he was so elated to have my case!  LOL  He lit up like a Christmas tree.  He had somebody that had had it in their eyes but never in their lung.  He told me you can actually get it in her eyes, brain and lungs!!!!!  I think I was glad I had it in my lung.  5 years after my hysterectomy I had another collapse and again I broke the record books.  They have journaled about it because endometriosis shouldn't be able to live more than about 9 months without the hormones and since I didn't have any for well over a year I should have no way to still have the endometrial tissue.  They still don't know for certain what caused the collapse, could have been a weakness caused by all the previous collapses or now some research is showing that endometriosis isn't so easily gotten rid of.  Who knows.  No more hormones and no more collapses, knocking on wood!  They are small collapses so normally no chest tube.  I can usually guess the percent of collapse based on the pain.  I can say this is my only claim to fame and boy how I wish I knew nothing about it!  LOL

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Bonnie in the beginning I wasn't overly scared.  I had gone to the dr and he basically blew me off but I argued with him and told him I couldn't handle the paint.  He listened to my lungs and said he heard nothing but I didn't let up.  It felt like and ice pic was going through my chest.  I think he thought I was being a whiner.  He finally ordered x-rays and then came to give me the news.  He had brought along the ER nurse and a wheelchair and told me I'd have to be admitted.  He apologized over and over and said he had never had anybody have what I have and talk so normally.  I dreaded the next words to come out of his mouth.  I was sure he was going to tell me I was dying and had cancer or something.   I was actually relieved when he told me I had a collapsed lung and said, "oh ok how do we fix that?"  LOL  After a short hospital stay, week of bed rest, 3 weeks to have the lung reinflate I was ok and I avoided the chest tube!  I had had it for 3 days at that point and it hadn't gotten worse so I wasn't going to willingly let them put a tube in my chest.  The scary part was not knowing exactly what caused it.  It wasn't until the 2nd one that I got more scared because I knew more were likely.  The Internet was fairly new, at least us having access to it was but hubby encouraged me to go see if I could find anything.  I found something based on what had been described and the entire thing matched my symptoms, my age range, same lung (always right sid) and on and on.  I printed the whole article and when I got to the end and it said, Terminal no treatment.  I remember throwing those papers at my husband  telling him I didn't want to live like I was dying and that I wanted to enjoy whatever life I had left and that if he wanted to do research he could but don't bother me with it.  LOL.  we are very different, he wants to know every detail I do not.  When I had the plural abrasion he asked so many questions and I told him he could ask all he wanted but I didn't want the details on the procedure itself.  I wanted to know what to expect, how long would I be down and what  the recovery time was.  Hubby wanted every detail.  I have permanent nerve damage from that procedure but it was a known risk and that is what it is.  At first the nerve damage was so severe that I could hardly use my right arm.  Thankfully that got better.  Now it is hyper sensitive but very manageable.  I don't really think after all of that I was really scared any more.  The collapses hurt but they didn't scare me for whatever reason.  Now I'm just thankful that God guided me to the right doctors.  Could be that I was still having the collapses every 3 or so months.  I always try to remind myself there are others so much worse then me and then I'm thankful  :D for what I have.  

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Heidi, I watched Terry go thru a month of two chest tubes... 
He said, "The pain is like Hell..  But I need the tubes".

They finally went in and patched a hole in his lung and sent him

home with no tubes 3 days later.  Scared the heck out of me,

and Terry just said, "Mom, don't worry, God will take care of me!"

 

I still cry. 

 

My hysterectomy was total, and hot flashes rained like Heidi said,

a gazillion times a day and having to sleep in a damp bed always

was miserable.  Himself would have had to get up about twice per hour

to change the bed, and we'd have been washing bedding all night.

 

Hot flashes still hit me now and then, but are always triggered once

they put me on steroids.  I have a hate-love relationship with steroids,

hate what reactions I get, but they keep me alive when I hit a crisis

in COPD.

 

 The syrgery was side to side, and 4 days later I was doing laundry and

cooking for two capable adults who wouldn't eat rather than cook for

all of us.  I needed to eat to stay on a steady keal with hormones and

to heal.

 

I was in so much pain.  Neither of them even tried to understand until

both of them had to have abdominal surgery one side to side, the other

up and down.. They didn't think it was so minor and both complained,

after that.

 

It took all of the 6-8 weeks before I wasn't hurting constantly, and I was

still experiencing pain when I lifted or reached high.

 

Both also have hot flashes, Himself and DD.  They don't like them either, and

now Himself gets to sleep in a damp bed.

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Ok...I'm supposed to stay away from this topic as I'm a guy...but I am also a physician ( an anesthesiologist who started life as a neurosurgeon but then wanted more time with my family...so I went back to school)...and the son of a gynecologist and a Maternal-child health nurse (with a PhD...we don't believe in going to school in my family )... I also had metastatic cancer 10-11 years ago...so I may have some insight.

My personal thoughts are...ovarian cancer is often silent until it's too late, and you will go through menopause (Or as we call it in my family man-o-pause!) anyway, though likely more gradually...you have to make your own decision though.

My final thought why don't they call it a hersterectomy ( yes...we did often discuss that in the OR as well as "why isn't it called a "hisnia" for boys instead of a hernia?)

Wishing you a great experience no matter what you choose..at least as great as any surgery can be!

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Dr. Dave, it really is a silent killer, usually caught too late. I appreciate your input, as a neurosurgeon and anesthesiologist, and as someone who went through having metastatic cancer (I hope it is cured). Thank you so much for sharing your views and the well wishes. I'm planning on asking for an oophorectomy, guess I'll get a salpingo-oophorectomy. (haha -- a little doc lingo for you, I'm a medical transcriptionist by trade). BTW, I love how anesthesia has changed so much in the last few years. My husband had his hip replaced this summer and they gave him an epidural, no general, but enough "other stuff" that he was not aware of what was going on in the OR. He was up walking in two hours after the recovery room. With the epidural, he didn't experience any pain for three days, and only had pain for two after that. It's really amazing what you anesthesiologists are able to provide!

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