Hysterectomy Raises Risk for Early Menopause

Uterus removal may lead to health problems

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A hysterectomy, or surgery to remove a woman’s uterus, is a common procedure used to treat many health conditions, including gynecologic cancer, fibroids and endometriosis.

However, the procedure is not without long-term risk. A hysterectomy could cause early menopause

A recent Duke University study shows that a hysterectomy poses a risk that doctors had suspected for years: It doubles a woman’s risk of early menopause, which increases a woman’s chances for developing other serious health problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis, colon and ovarian cancer.

"Hysterectomy may pose risk. Ask an OB/GYN about your options. "

University researchers tracked 900 women between 30 and 47 years old, for five years. Half of the women had hysterectomies and the other half did not.

The women who had a hysterectomy were left with one or both ovaries, which allowed them to ovulate monthly (but not menstruate) and have continued hormone production, said lead study author Dr. Patricia G. Moorman, an associate professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University, in a press release.

The team found that 14.8% of women with a hysterectomy experienced menopause, while only 8% of women without surgery experienced it. The risk was higher for women who had one ovary removed, but it’s still high for women who kept both ovaries.

It’s unknown what causes the ovaries to shut down after a hysterectomy (which leads to menopause), said Moorman. Some experts believe that surgery disrupts blood flow to the ovaries and leads to ovarian failure, while others think whatever condition a woman had that necessitated the hysterectomy is the cause, she said.

Moorman believes that the link between hysterectomy and early menopause may cause women to think twice about the procedure and seek out other treatment options.

This observational study was published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Review Date: 
November 17, 2011
Last Updated:
December 19, 2011