The aim of the study was to explore the process of decision-making about menopausal treatments in women who have had surgical menopause as a result of bilateral oophorectomy (≤50 y).
We used a descriptive qualitative research design. Women who had a surgical menopause were purposefully selected from the Edmonton Menopause Clinics. Focus groups were held, each with six to nine participants. All sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
We conducted five focus groups from June 30 to July 21, 2016 (N = 37). One-third of the women had the surgery within the last 5 years. Almost all women had a concurrent hysterectomy (97%) and were current users of hormone therapy (70%). Four main themes identified were “perceptions of surgical menopause,” “perceptions of received support,” “being my own advocate,” and “concept of adequate support.” Women shared that the experience was worse than their expectations and did not believe they were given adequate support to prepare them to make therapy decisions. Women had to “be their own advocates” and seek support from within the healthcare system and outside to cope with their health issues. To make an informed decision about treatments postsurgery, women expressed a need to learn more about the symptoms of surgical menopause, treatment options, resources, avenues for support, and stories of similar experiences, preferably before the surgery.
We identified several modifiable deterrents to decision-making in early surgical menopause which can help inform the development of a patient decision aid for this context.