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"Our study shows that removing the uterus may have more effect on physical and mental health than previously thought," said senior author Dr. Shannon Laughlin-Tommaso, an ob-gyn at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"Because women often get a hysterectomy at a young age, knowing the risks associated with the procedure even years later is important," she said in a clinic news release.
She and her colleagues reviewed the health records of nearly 2,100 women who underwent removal of the uterus but not the ovaries. They found they had about a 7% increased risk of depression and a 5% increased risk of anxiety over 30 years.
There are several alternatives to hysterectomy for women with benign gynecological conditions, Laughlin-Tommaso noted.
"Those alternatives should be tried before going to hysterectomy, especially at a young age," she said.
A second Mayo study in the same journal found that 1,653 premenopausal women who had both ovaries removed at the time of hysterectomy without an indication of cancer were more likely to have preexisting mood disorders, anxiety disorders or other mental health disorders.
Most of the women had their ovaries removed to prevent or minimize the risk of ovarian or breast cancer.
"We can say that psychological conditions may have played an important role in the decision to perform a hysterectomy, with or without removal of the ovaries," said study senior author Dr. Walter Rocca, a neurologist and epidemiologist.
"Understanding the psychiatric conditions that may have influenced the past practice of hysterectomy is important for developing more conservative strategies in the future," he said.
-- Robert Preidt
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