Hysterectomy May Cause Adverse Mental Health Conditions, Study Says

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A Mayo Clinic study found that hysterectomy resulted in long-term increased risk of mental health issues for women, especially among women under age 35 and regardless of the reason for the hysterectomy, compared with women who did not undergo surgical removal of the uterus, the New York Times reported. The study only included hysterectomies that did not involve the removal of ovaries.

Researchers reviewed health records of nearly 2,100 women over a 22-year period from 1980 to 2002, considering only new diagnoses of post-hysterectomy depression, anxiety, dementia, substance abuse and schizophrenia and excluding women with prior histories of these conditions.

Women’s absolute post-hysterectomy risk for depression increased by 6.6% while the risk for anxiety increased by 4.7%. For women between the ages of 18 and 35 who underwent hysterectomy, the absolute risk for depression was considerably higher, at 12%.

Absolute risk refers to an individual’s increased or decreased risk compared with that individual’s beginning risk level. Relative risk for mental health issues, in this case comparing women who had their uteri surgically removed compared with those who did not undergo a hysterectomy, increased by 26% for depression and 22% for anxiety, according to The New York Times. The news publication also reported that the study controlled for more than a dozen physical and mental disorders, including cancer, substance abuse, and arthritis.

The study indicates that removing a women’s uterus may have more impact on her mental and physical health than previously thought, as explained by Lead author Dr. Sharon Laughlin-Tommaso, Mayo Clinic OBGYN and chair of the clinic’s gynecology division. She added that non-surgical treatments for benign conditions should be considered first, before hysterectomy, especially among younger women.

The study was published in September in the journal Menopause.[1]

By Carah Wertheimer

Carah Wertheimer is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Her areas of specialization include food, health, environment, social justice and community reporting. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The Denver Post, The Daily Beast, the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly and other publications.

Footnotes

Laughlin-Tommaso, Shannon K.; Satish, Anisha; Khan, Zaraq; Smith, Carin Y.; Rocca, Walter A.; Stewart, Elizabeth A. Less. “Long-term risk of de novo mental health conditions after hysterectomy with ovarian conservation.” Menopause 27, 1 (2020): 33–42, doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001415.

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