Hysterectomy for Non-Cancerous Women: Ovary Removal or Not

If you’ve been told you need a hysterectomy talk to your doctor about leaving your ovaries intact. For many years doctors have removed healthy ovaries, when doing a hysterectomy, to prevent the chance of developing ovarian cancer in the future. However, if the uterus is being removed for non-cancerous reasons new studies are suggesting that there’s no reason to remove the ovaries. In addition there is scientific data pointing to the removal of the ovaries having a tendency to shorten the overall life span of women and increase the risk of heart disease.

Although there are over 600,000 hysterectomies performed every year 90 percent of them are for non-cancerous reasons. Over half of the hysterectomies performed are done with the ovaries being removed as well.

The practice of removing the ovaries is well accepted in the medical community but few studies back up the reasoning behind the extra surgery. Since the ovaries often harbor cancer-causing genes most surgeons opt to eliminate the risk for women who have hysterectomies by removing them. Women who have no history of cancer should think twice about this.

For women who must have a hysterectomy due to uterine cancer having the ovaries removed is probably the best decision, but without the threat of cancer, consider finding a surgeon who will leave ovaries in tact. Many surgeons will not agree, still practicing the complete removal of all feminine organs, so it may be necessary to go to an alternate surgeon.

Although the likelihood that a woman over 65 will be direly affected by the ovary removal during hysterectomy, younger women should beware of giving the go-ahead to the surgeon before discussing it with at least one other doctor.

Statistics show that 75 to 85 percent of women say they feel better after a complete hysterectomy but others report no improvement. As a matter of fact, some even say they feel much worse than before the hysterectomy. Since ovaries continue to produce some hormones, even after menopause, some doctors are now opting to leave the ovaries in tact – if there is no cancer present.

Talk to your doctor, in-depth, before surgery to determine how he feels about leaving the ovaries. If he’s dead-set against it, ask him to explain why. If you feel the explanation doesn’t warrant the removal of your ovaries, insist on seeing another doctor. Your body belongs to you and you are ultimately the decision maker. Do not be afraid to speak up – and to listen. Only after you’re completely informed can you make the final decision.

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