Should a woman's ovaries be removed during a hysterectomy for noncancerous disease?

While ovary removal during hysterectomy protects against future risk of ovarian cancer, the decision to conserve the ovaries and the hormones they produce may have advantages for preventing heart disease, hip fracture, sexual dysfunction, and cognitive decline. Other than a woman's cancer risk, the most important factor that should determine ovarian conservation vs. removal is her age—whether she is older or younger than 50—according to a Review article published in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Catherine Matthews, MD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, emphasizes the difficult choice women must often make in the article "A Critical Evaluation of the Evidence for Ovarian Conservation Versus Removal at the Time of Hysterectomy for Benign Disease."

Conflicting data regarding the potential benefits of removing a woman's healthy ovaries at the time of a hysterectomy have led to confusion. When there is no acute reason to remove a woman's ovaries at the time of and she has no increased genetic risk for ovarian cancer, the accumulated data indicate that elective bilateral ovary removal should be discouraged in women younger than 50 years. The withdrawal of ovarian hormones can have negative health consequences in this population. However, in postmenopausal women, it is advisable to remove the ovaries to protect against , as the medical literature shows that elective ovary removal is not likely to have an adverse effect on heart disease, , sexual dysfunction, or cognitive function at this stage of a woman's life.

"As 600,000 hysterectomies for benign disease are performed annually in the U.S. alone, it is imperative that we have clear guidelines for retaining versus removing normal ovaries," says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women's Health.

Related Stories

Hysterectomy does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease

May 14, 2013

Having a hysterectomy with or without ovary removal in mid-life does not increase a woman's risk of cardiovascular disease compared to women who reach natural menopause, contrary to many previously reported studies, according ...

Endometriosis treatments lower ovarian cancer risk

Apr 11, 2013

A novel study shows women who undergo surgical treatment for endometriosis have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. According to results published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the ...

Recommended for you

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

2 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

3 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

4 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

Computer model reveals cancer's energy source

5 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—A computer model study reveals – for the first time – details of an energy-creating process vital and unique to cancer cells. The research holds promise for new interventions and for ...

User comments