There are a few reasons that women may opt to have a hysterectomy. The most common is excessive bleeding (heavy flow and/or long duration). This could be due to hormonal imbalances or possibly fibroids or tumors. A prolapsed uterus is another reason, and some women have come to their own conclusion (or have been told by their doctor) that if they are no longer planning on having children, they may as well just have it removed. Many women follow through with this, especially if it is perceived to be the cause of menstrual issues.
Right now, hysterectomy is the second most common gynecologic surgery, with many being performed for non-critical reasons because the surgery has been thought to carry minimal long-term risks. But unless it is absolutely necessary, there may be reason to give a second thought to just “yanking out” the uterus without justifiable cause. According to new research, women who undergo a hysterectomy may be at greater risk for heart disease and other health issues later in life, even if they decide to keep their ovaries.
The study researchers looked at the health records of nearly 2,100 women who underwent a partial hysterectomy (not removing the ovaries) between 1980 and 2002. They were compared to a similar set of women who had not had the procedure. What they found in the hysterectomy group compared to the others was:
- 33% greater risk for heart disease
- 18% higher chance for obesity
- 14% more likely to have abnormal blood fat levels
- 13% greater risk for high blood pressure
Having the procedure at a younger age also appeared to carry additional risk. Women who had the surgery performed before the age of 35 also showed a 4.6-fold higher risk of congestive heart failure and a 2.5-fold greater risk of coronary artery disease. These findings were published in January in the journal Menopause.
While the study does show trends based on the data, it does not prove that a hysterectomy was the sole cause of the additional health issues. But wherever there are trends, it should make one take notice and evaluate whether there may be a likelihood that they do indeed hold true. The surgery may be necessary in some instances where other lesser procedures like uterine ablation might not be enough to correct the problems. But one should always research and weigh options when considering any non-emergency surgery.
From a functional standpoint, the way I look at this data is to take a step farther back and think that if there may be risks from this procedure, how could we possibly prevent the need for the procedure? One of the main causes of excessive bleeding is uterine fibroids. A major cause of uterine fibroids? Testosterone dominance in females. Two big drivers of testosterone dominance? Stress and blood sugar imbalances.
Controlling your blood sugars should be an easy process since you have ultimate control over what you put in your body each day. Your diet and the choices you make will make will be the determining factors on whether blood sugars stay normal or push you into the diabetic range and begin to disrupt your hormonal balance. Stresses may not always be the easiest to manage, especially when some can be out of our range of control. But learning ways to reduce inflammation in the body, keep blood sugars under control, and restore health in any number of ways will lower the overall stress loads you may be dealing with daily, making it much easier for your body to maintain normal hormone output.
The key here is prevention – doing the things you need to do to help keep your body in its healthiest state possible. If you can, then you decrease the chance of putting yourself in a position where you may have to make a tough choice about a procedure that may carry more risk than we currently know.