• By Dana Sparks

Women’s Wellness: Hysterectomy associated with risk of mental health issues

September 5, 2019
a middle-aged woman, sitting outdoors with her chin resting on her hands and eyes downcast, looking sad or depressed

Hysterectomy is associated with an increased risk of long-term mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety, according to a cohort study by Mayo Clinic researchers involving nearly 2,100 women.

The study was published online by Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

The review of health records from 1980 to 2002 involved women who underwent removal of the uterus but not the ovaries. The study, which used data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, considered only new diagnoses of depression, anxiety, dementia, substance abuse and schizophrenia after hysterectomy, and excluded women with prior diagnoses.

"Our study shows that removing the uterus may have more effect on physical and mental health than previously thought," says senior author Shannon Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D., a Mayo Clinic OB-GYN. "Because women often get a hysterectomy at a young age, knowing the risks associated with the procedure even years later is important."

Dr. Laughlin-Tommaso says several treatments for benign gynecological conditions are available that would allow a woman to avoid hysterectomy. "Those alternatives should be tried before going to hysterectomy, especially at a young age," she says.

A second study published this week finds that women who had both ovaries removed without an indication of malignancy were more likely to have preexisting mood disorders, anxiety disorders or other less common psychological disorders.

"We can say that psychological conditions may have played an important role in the decision to perform hysterectomy, with or without removal of the ovaries," says Walter Rocca, M.D., a Mayo Clinic 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." Dr. Rocca is senior author of the study.

Read more details about both studies: News Release

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