FRIDAY, Feb. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who had their ovaries removed before menopause are at increased risk for bone loss and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at 222 healthy postmenopausal women in the Los Angeles area. Among women who were more than 10 years past menopause, the rate of bone mineral density loss was twice as high in those who'd had their ovaries removed before menopause than in those who still had their ovaries.
The women without ovaries also had more evidence of hardening of the arteries, according to the study published Feb. 14 in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
The researchers at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine noted that the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are common conditions in women as they grow older, particularly after menopause.
Decreasing levels of hormones affect the severity of both health issues. While hormone levels gradually fall through menopause, they can decline suddenly if a woman's ovaries are removed.
"Most women in the United States having a hysterectomy have their ovaries removed as well as their uterus, even those who do not have increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer," Dr. Rebecca Sokol, acting president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a society news release. "As we learn more about the protective effects the ovaries may exert on bone and cardiovascular health after menopause, this practice could be reconsidered."
Sokol said a physician's careful analysis of a woman's individual risks for cancer, as well as for bone loss, heart disease and stroke, could help her decide whether ovary removal is the best course.
Women faced with a hysterectomy (aka surgical menopause) often have concern and should discuss the issue of taking or leaving the ovaries with this life changing surgery. I do understand that sometimes there is just simply no choice in having a hysterectomy with prolonged issues of bleeding, pain, and cancer risk, but I also think women need to be aware of this information before going in for the surgery in situations where there might be an option to retain the ovaries.
William Parker MD and Cathleen Rivera MD reported that removing the ovaries is detrimental to overall health and results in increased mortality. Now this is a big study and it's why I like to share it for purposes of this blog. Here are the facts of the study found in the National Institutes of Health library:
Dr. Parker followed 30,000 women for 24 years after their hysterectomy. Half had the ovaries removed and half did not. The group with the ovaries removed DID have lower rates of ovarian and breast cancer. BUT, they also had a MARKED increase in death from heart disease and other cancers. :( The group with the ovaries removed had a HIGHER ALL-cause morality rate.
And another study:
Dr Rivera followed 1,000 premenopausal women (under 45 yo) after hysterectomy and found that the removal of the ovaries resulted in a disturbing 84% INCREASE IN DEATH from heart disease.
I haven't even traveled down the trail of osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and Alzheimers Disease in this blog all which now show a strong association to hormone imbalance.
Now sometimes there's not a choice in having the ovaries removed. It is necessary in some cases. The experts would agree that if a woman has a high risk of ovarian or family breast cancer, and positive genetic markers, then it would make sense to remove the ovaries.
Now, what about those who must have the ovaries removed? Well, there is a good ending to this post for those facing this surgery or if you've already had a hysterectomy with your ovaries removed. Modern science and studies do prove that hormone replacement therapy can reduce the increased risks or heart disease associated with ovary removal with hysterectomy. The bio-identical hormones are the best plan for patients (over synthetics) and can be customized to an individuals needs and hormone levels. The testing is simple and I can work with your personal physician to provide the necessary hormones that you have lost due to a hysterectomy. I just finished up two patient charts this morning with each person showing varied hormone levels, varied family histories, varied physical attributes, varied concerns, etc. etc. after having her hysterectomy. Each woman will receive a unique formulation to match her imbalance and symptoms. It's great to be able to provide this option for women.
So what physical changes have you experienced since having your hysterectomy?
Get tested and get treated if you've noticed symptoms and concerns!
To your good health,