Many women believe that undergoing a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) will cure their fibroid problems. And while that may be true, a new study from the Mayo Clinic says that, in doing so, women set themselves up for more serious problems down the road.
In fact, according to the study, women who undergo hysterectomies–even if their ovaries are preserved–have a big increase in their risk of many metabolic and cardiovascular conditions. Dr. Shannon Laughlin-Tommaso, who authored the study, says, “This is the best data to date that shows women undergoing hysterectomy have a risk of long term disease…while women are increasingly aware that removing their ovaries poses health risks, this study suggests hysterectomy alone has risks, especially for women who undergo hysterectomy prior to age 35.”
To reach these conclusions, researchers followed 2094 women who’d undergone hysterectomies, with ovary preservation, between 1980 and 2002. Each of these women was then compared to a woman her same age, in her same county of residence, who had not undergone a hysterectomy. What they found was frightening: the women who’d had hysterectomies were 14% more likely to have lipid abnormalities, 18% more likely to be obese, 13% more likely to have high blood pressure, and had a 33% increase in risk of coronary artery disease. These risks increased in the women who’d had their hysterectomies before the age of 35.
For years, hysterectomy was thought of as the best way to treat fibroid tumors. Many women are still told that this is the right treatment choice, even though other, less invasive, options are now available. In the light of this research, however, the reasons for seeking alternative fibroid treatments is abundantly clear.
As Dr. Laughlin-Tommaso says, “Hysterectomy is the second most common gynecologic surgery, and most are done for benign reasons, because most physicians believe that this surgery has minimal long-term risks. With the results of this study, we encourage people to consider nonsurgical alternative therapies fro fibroids, endometriosis and prolapse, which are the leading causes of hysterectomy.”