-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women who have a
hysterectomy that spares the ovaries are almost twice as likely to
go through early menopause as women who do not have their uteruses
removed, according to a new study.
"Hysterectomy is a common treatment for many conditions, including fibroids and excessive bleeding," said the study's lead author, Patricia G. Moorman, an associate professor in the department of community and family medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in a Duke news release. "Most women are very satisfied with the results of a hysterectomy. But this is a potential risk of the surgery that should be considered along with the benefit."
In conducting the study, published in the December issue of the
Obstetrics & Gynecology, Duke researchers followed roughly 900 women between 30 and 47 years old for five years. About half of the women had a hysterectomy, but kept at least one ovary to retain hormone production and not increase their risk for bone loss, heart disease and other health problems.
Despite keeping an ovary, the study found that nearly 15 percent
of the women who had hysterectomies experienced menopause over the
course of the study, compared with only 8 percent of the women who
didn't have the surgery.
Women who had one ovary removed were at the greatest risk for
menopause, but even women who kept both ovaries were at increased
risk, the study noted. The researchers estimated menopause for
these women occurred about two years earlier than for their peers
who didn't have a hysterectomy.
What causes a woman's ovaries to shut down after a hysterectomy
is still unknown, the study's authors added.
"Some have hypothesized that surgery disrupts the blood flow to the ovaries, so the surgery leads to early ovarian failure," said Moorman. "Others have speculated it's not the surgery, but the underlying condition preceding the surgery that causes it. Right now, it's unresolved."
The researchers concluded the study confirms that early
menopause is a potential risk associated with hysterectomy.
"This could potentially change practice because women who are considering hysterectomy for fibroids or other problems may want to explore other treatment options for their condition if they know they may go through menopause earlier," said Moorman.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
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