Do the benefits of hysterectomy outweigh its risks?

The latest study shows that women who have their ovaries removed via this medical procedure have a higher risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancers.

What Is Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy is the surgical procedure that removes a woman's uterus, otherwise known as the womb, which is where a baby grows and develops during pregnancy.

A woman is usually advised to undergo hysterectomy to address chronic pain in the pelvis, uncontrollable vaginal bleeding, endometriosis (a uterus disorder that causes severe pain and bleeding), fibroids (benign tumors in the uterus), pelvic inflammatory disease (serious infection of reproductive organs), and some types of cancers - such as cancer of the uterus, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer.

There are three types of hysterectomy: partial hysterectomy (removal of a specific part of the uterus, cervix may be left intact), total hysterectomy (removal of the entire uterus including the cervix), and hysterectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the uterus with one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes).

The second most common procedure performed on women in the United States, hysterectomy may be performed in several ways: through an incision in the abdomen (abdominal hysterectomy), through a tiny incision in the vagina (vaginal hysterectomy), or by using a tiny instrument with a high-resolution camera called laparoscope (laparoscopic hysterectomy).

Hysterectomy Linked To Heart Disease, Cancer, And Early Death In Women

Using a decade's worth of data, researchers from the University of Warwick in England looked into 113,679 premenopausal women, aged 35 to 45 years old, who had two ovaries or one of their ovaries removed via hysterectomy between April 2004 and March 2014.

The researchers found that women who had one or none of their ovaries removed had a lower risk of developing coronary artery disease (otherwise known as ischaemic heart disease) or cancer, as opposed to those who had both ovaries removed.

The Side Effects Of Hysterectomy: Are They Worth It?

The study did not discount the fact that the threat of ovarian cancer is significantly reduced by surgical removal of both ovaries. Nevertheless, Richard Lilford, the lead author of the study, still emphasized that while a woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer is one in 52 in the United Kingdom, taking out a metabolically active organ, such as the ovary, may pose significant consequences in the long run.

Lilford added that these permanent effects plus the immediate effects of acute estrogen deprivation actually overshadow hysterectomy's promise of protection from ovarian cancer.

The study was recently published in The BMJ.

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