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Bilateral Oophorectomy versus Ovarian Conservation: Effects on Long-term Women's Health

  • William H. Parker
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author: William H. Parker, MD, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, 1450 Tenth St., Santa Monica, CA 90401.
    Affiliations
    John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, California
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      Abstract

      Bilateral oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease is commonly practiced to prevent the subsequent development of ovarian cancer. Currently, bilateral oophorectomy is performed in 55% of all U.S. women having a hysterectomy, with approximately 300 000 prophylactic oophorectomies performed every year. Observational studies show that estrogen deficiency, resulting from premenopausal or postmenopausal oophorectomy, is associated with higher risks of coronary artery disease, stroke, hip fracture, Parkinsonism, dementia, cognitive impairment, depression, and anxiety. These studies suggest that bilateral oophorectomy may do more harm than good. In women not at high risk for development of ovarian or breast cancer, removing the ovaries at the time of hysterectomy should be approached with caution.

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