Many women with fibroids think they need a hysterectomy—a surgical removal of the uterus. Some are told it’s the only way to relieve fibroid symptoms, even though there are less invasive treatments available, like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). No matter what the reason, women who undergo hysterectomies must deal with the recovery of a major surgery. And now, according to a new study, we know they may also end up facing mental health struggles after their hysterectomy.
How a Hysterectomy can Hurt Your Mental Health
In a new study published in the journal Menopause, women’s risk for anxiety and depression increased after hysterectomy.
To reach this conclusion, researchers reviewed the medical records of 2,094 women who’d had ovary-sparing hysterectomies. For this study, none of those women had cancer. Next, they compared the records to the same amount of same-aged women who hadn’t had a hysterectomy. They followed both groups for 22 years.
As it turns out, woman’s risk for depression relatively increased by 26 percent with hysterectomy. And the risk for anxiety increased by 22 percent after hysterectomy. Researchers discovered that age matters too. Apparently, women who had a hysterectomy before 35 were at a 47 percent increased risk for depression and a 45 percent increased anxiety risk. Outside of cancer, the reason for the hysterectomy didn’t seem to impact the increased risk of mental health issues.
According to lead study author, Dr. Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mayo Clinic, “Hysterectomy is right for some women. But there is this 4 to 6 percent of women who will be affected by depression or anxiety. We’re hoping women will talk with their doctors and see if there’s any alternative they could use instead.”
UFE: The non-surgical fibroid treatment option
Thankfully, many women with fibroids can find a non-surgical alternative to hysterectomy in our Houston-area practice. Using imagine, catheters and an injection, we are able to cut off blood flow to your fibroids, which makes them shrink and, eventually, disappear. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, usually not involving a hospital stay.
If you have fibroids and are concerned about having a hysterectomy, reach out to our doctors. We can help you determine if UFE is the right treatment option for you.
Sources: Menopause, The New York Times