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Hysterectomy: Leave the Ovaries

Doctors used to recommend that a women have her ovaries removed along with her uterus to make it impossible for her ever to have ovarian cancer. They don't do that much any more. Removing the ovaries deprives a woman of her male hormones as well as her female ones.

After removal of her ovaries, a woman's cholesterol, particularly the bad LDL cholesterol, rises (1) and she is at increased risk for suffering a heart attack (5). Other side effects include depression (2), osteoporosis (3),and the drop in male hormones causes loss of assertiveness, muscle strength and interest in making love (2). Furthermore, a study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that removing a uterus markedly reduces a woman's chances of getting ovarian cancer, even though the ovaries are left in place (4).

1) Y Suda, H Ohta, K Makita, K Takamatsu, F Horiguchi, S Nozawa. Influence of bilateral oophorectomy upon lipid metabolism. Maturitas 29

2 (JUN 3 1998):147-154. 2) S Carranzalira, A Murillouribe, NM Trejo, J Santosgonzalez. Changes in symptomatology, hormones, lipids, and bone density after hysterectomy. International Journal of Fertility and Womens Medicine. 42: 1 (JAN-FEB 1997):43-47. It was observed that hysterectomy does not have a deleterious effect on hormone or lipid levels, nor on bone density, but depression was a frequent finding in hysterectomized women.

3) A Yildiz, I Sahin, K Gol, Z Taner, A Uluturk, K Biberoglu. Bone loss rate in the lumbar spine: A comparison between natural and surgically induced menopause. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 55: 2(NOV 1996):153-159 Conclusions: Oopherectomized women seemed to suffer a relatively higher bone loss rate compared with natural menopause.

4) A Loft, O Lidegaard, A Tabor. Incidence of ovarian cancer after hysterectomy: a nationwide controlled follow up. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 104: 11(NOV 1997):1296-1301.

5) S Rako. Testosterone deficiency: A key factor in the increased cardiovascular risk to women following hysterectomy or with natural aging? Journal of Womens Health 7: 7 (SEP 1998):825-829.

Checked 12/2/13

May 31st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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