How you respond to everyday triggers can change drastically after a hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and even after undergoing chemotherapy. You can also experience significant changes in your mood after treatment that have no obvious triggers. The suddenness of the change in how you respond to life emotionally can create additional emotional imbalance as you may feel powerless to control it. Sadness and depression may become unwelcome visitors, with suitcases packed for a long stay. Your temper may have a shorter fuse than before, and what used to be a minor nuisance can now drive you over the brink of irritability. Simply dealing with the diagnosis and all that it entails can cause emotions to be raw and threadbare in the early days, weeks, and months, without tossing in the hormonal imbalance.
These emotional disturbances are typically linked to changes in your estrogen levels. Know that estrogen helps to regulate serotonin, which is a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. The removal of estrogen-producing ovaries results in a sudden drop in estrogen, causing women to wake up from the procedure in surgical menopause. The sudden onset of surgical menopause is, for many women, a harsh new reality that occurs seemingly in an instant. If you have only one ovary removed and then undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation, there is a possibility that these treatments can also damage the remaining ovary, causing a decrease in estrogen production, as well. Some women begin experiencing menopausal symptoms with a hysterectomy, as well. The mood-altering changes resulting from diminished or absent estrogen levels can last for weeks, months, and, in some cases, even years.
Keep in mind that everyone's experience is different. Some experience less drastic mood swings than others, and for a shorter duration overall. In addition, to control these changes, some ovarian cancer survivors opt to take small doses of estrogen. Others avoid all treatments that contain, or that even mimic, estrogen, altogether. After doing your own research, talk with your doctor about whether or not hormone replacement therapy is best for you. Alternative therapies such as black cohosh, St John's wort and chromium should also be discussed with your oncologist and, where possible, a naturopath. Again, your choice to opt out of estrogen therapy in all of its forms is, just that, your choice.
Nevertheless, you can help to regulate your body's overall response to stress and restore functional balance by incorporating yoga, exercise, meditation, and healthy diet choices in your overall program. You can read more about these options here. Regaining a sense of normalcy, albeit at a new normal, is not only possible, it is your vital right.