Preserving Ovaries, Preserving Health

Hysterectomies are the second most common surgeries among
American women, after cesarean section deliveries.  More than half
a million women, one in three, will undergo a hysterectomy before the
age of 60. In addition to removing the uterus, half of those women are
also advised to have an oophorectomy in which one or both ovaries are removed.
Thought to provide significant protection against breast and ovarian
cancer, the practice of oophorectomy may get a second look in light
of groundbreaking new research.  

In a study published in this month’s Obstetrics
& Gynecology,
researchers found that women who had their ovaries
removed were at a much higher risk of death, heart disease and lung
cancer than the women whose ovaries were preserved. The risk was even
higher for women under the age of 50 at the time of their hysterectomy
and oophorectomy.
Because the ovaries continue to produce androgens which can be converted
to estrogen in the body, experts believe that estrogen may play a key
protective role against heart disease and this study adds to the evidence
to support that suggestion.   

The authors were quick to point out
that a woman with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancers
should still take precautions and have her ovaries removed, but this
research suggests that women without a genetic predisposition for those
cancers will probably fare better keeping their ovaries.  

In light of this research, will gynecologists
change their practices?  Will women be informed that preserving
their ovaries may preserve their health?    

Looking at the bigger picture, according
to the National
Women’s Health Network
up to 90% of hysterectomies are medically unnecessary and yet, women
are still having them. Why undergo major surgery with potential life-changing
side effects like depression and loss of sex drive if it’s not needed?
Are women being informed about the non-surgical alternatives to hysterectomies? 
Are women being told the whole story?   

Looking at the even bigger picture,
evidence is emerging that environmental contaminants and chemicals in
our everyday products may be contributing to a whole slew of female
reproductive disorders, including fibroids, the number one reason for a hysterectomy.
Protecting women against exposures to these chemicals could potentially
reduce their risk of developing reproductive disorders, including cancer,
and thus reduce the need for most elective hysterectomies.  

A growing body of medical professionals
have taken the concerns about environmental health and reproductive
health very seriously.  In September of last year, an editorial
was published in American Family Physician alerting doctors to
the risks of exposures to these chemicals and the need to educate patients.
Similarly, the Association
of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP)

has become a clearinghouse of environmental and reproductive health
information for physicians, including continuing medical education credits.
Progress is being made, but it is too soon to say when the mainstream
medical community will pick up these important connections and begin
offering clinical advice for patients.   

Until it becomes clear to on how doctors
will advise women to reduce their chemical risk for reproductive disorders,
this study further strengthens a recommendation from the National Women’s Health
for women to explore
non-surgical alternatives to hysterectomies.  At the very least,
women considering a hysterectomy should talk to their doctors about
preserving their ovaries.   

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  • invalid-0

    Preserving ovaries is becoming easier with the help of new technologies. Now, recent advances to preserve ovaries and surgically implant them could make the procedure more widely available, helping women avoid fertility problems.

  • invalid-0

    Although taking away the womb will definitely sort out all kinds of problems including bleeding, fibroids, uterus pain, and pelvic heaviness associated with prolapse of the uterus, there are many women who would much prefer not to have to undergo such a drastic operation. There are various other treatments that are less stressful, for example fibroids can can be surgically removed from the uterus, preserving it, and irregular bleeding can be controlled with birth control pills.

  • invalid-0

    Reproductive health of the woman is a condition of full physical, intellectual and social well-being, instead of absence of illnesses and illnesses in all spheres, concerning reproductive system, its functions and processes (CART) is simple. In developed socially – economic conditions reproductive health of women is the factor of national safety, criterion of efficiency of a social and economic interdepartmental policy of the state.

  • invalid-0

    Personally, I think healthy hearts club offers excellent information
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  • invalid-0

    Stress or urge incontinence can appear after hysterectomy, especially if there is uterine prolapse, because uterus can compress bladder neck and mask for a while the urine loss

  • invalid-0

    Its hard to say what our gynecologist will think on this matter. Its interesting how well our body stays in equilibrium. If a part of that equilibrium is taken, whether it be spiritually, mentally, physically (Like an Organ} the body can have so many adverse effects. Obviously some women must have their ovaries out, but it seems to always come back to take care of yourself, our bodies dont last forever.

  • invalid-0

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    economics degree AND history degree