Removing the ovaries with a hysterectomy is common. In fact, of the 600,000 hysterectomies performed every year, half of them include the removal of the ovaries - the reason behind it being cited as cancer prevention (of the ovaries).
The fact is that our ovaries are important to our health - even when we are beyond child-bearing age. They have been linked to heart attack prevention, lessening risks of stroke and even dementia.
A recent WedMD story found that "researchers concluded that there is an "urgent need" for appropriately designed trials to determine if ovary removal is justifiable for all women who have hysterectomies.
For women at high risk of ovarian cancer, including those with a strong family history of the disease and those with a genetic predisposition to get the cancer, the benefits of ovary removal are clear, says UCLA professor of obstetrics and gynecology William H. Parker, MD.
But for the vast majority of women who don't have these risks, removal of the ovaries during hysterectomy may not be justified, he says.
Parker's own 2005 study of hysterectomy patients between the ages of 40 and 80 with an average risk for ovarian cancer found no survival benefit associated with ovary removal at any age, and a survival disadvantage associated with the practice up until the age of 65."
Even though many women are put on drugs that imitate ovary function, it is not as good as having the ovaries themselves.
And women need to make sure their risk of ovarian cancer is as high or higher as their risk of heart disease. Since heart disease is the biggest killer of women, many could find that ovarian removal may not be worth the risk.
Did you have a hysterectomy with ovary removal? Or did you keep your ovaries? Are you happy with your decision? Were you aware of the important functions of ovaries, even after child bearing age?
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