Abused Women Prone to Unnecessary Ovary Removal: Study

Researchers think physical, emotional or sexual abuse may prompt women to over-react to gynecological symptoms

THURSDAY, June 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Women who are victims of abuse may be at increased risk for unnecessary ovary removal, a new study suggests.

"Our current findings suggest that physical, emotional or sexual abuse predisposes women to seek medical attention for multiple gynecological symptoms, such as abdominal pain or excessive bleeding," said study co-author Dr. Liliana Gazzuola-Rocca. She is a health sciences researcher and psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, where the study was done.

"These gynecological symptoms may lead the women and their gynecologists to opt for removal of the reproductive organs at a young age -- even when these organs are completely normal," she said in a clinic news release.

The researchers compared 128 women under age 46 in Minnesota who had had their ovaries removed with women who did not have the procedure. The ovaries were removed for reasons other than cancer or a genetic risk of developing it.

The study found women who suffered physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse at any time were 62 percent more likely to have their ovaries removed than women who had not reported abuse.

"It's actually not that unexpected to find that abuse is connected to reproductive system difficulties. There are a number of studies showing psychological and physiological links," study co-author Dr. Stephanie Faubion said in the news release.

"What is concerning, however, is the fact that, although associations exist, adverse experiences and abuse do not appear to have been part of the physician-patient conversation when the decision was made to remove the essential estrogen-producing ovaries," she added. Faubion is director of Mayo Clinic's Office of Women's Health.

The researchers discourage surgeons from offering ovary removal as a preventive option for women who do not have cancer or gene changes that are likely to cause it.

Rocca noted that removing both ovaries in premenopausal women can lead to many health problems. They include depression, heart disease, elevated fats and lipids in the blood, arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoporosis.

The study was published June 7 in the journal BMJ Open.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on ovarian disorders.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, June 7, 2017

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